Why Virat Kohli should stop skipping T20Is in the lead-up to the 2020 ICC T20 World Cup
With less than a year to go for the ICC T20 World Cup, it is important for India to get its combination right and avoid the last minute fiasco that happened before the ODI World Cup earlier this year. Ambati Rayudu was unceremoniously dropped from the side and his place was taken up by Vijay Shankar, a decision that arguably back-fired as the latter failed to live up to the expectations.
The selectors have done a good job of selecting the likes of wicketkeeper Sanju Samson and all-rounder Shivam Dube for the upcoming series against Bangladesh. It is important to give chances to such enormously talented players well in advance so that they get the opportunity to prove their mettle.
However, one decision that sticks out like a sore thumb is that of resting captain Virat Kohli. In the last few years, Kohli has been rested quite a few times from the shortest form of the game, and that pattern has continued into the Bangladesh series.
It is understandable that Kohli, like any proper cricketer, would prefer the highest form of the game (Test cricket), and would rather miss T20s than Tests. But why is it not possible to rest him for the ODIs, now that the World Cup is over?
Before the ICC ODI World Cup, it made a lot of sense for Kohli to play as many ODIs as possible (though he was still rested from some important assignments such as the Asia Cup). But in the aftermath of the mega-event, he should consider resting himself from ODIs and play all the T20Is, in order to be match ready for the ICC T20 World Cup next year.
Kohli is not just the best T20 batsman in the Indian side and a master of chases, he is also India’s captain. He should get the chance to build his own team, and that cannot be done from the sidelines.
Kohli must be there in the middle to guide the likes of Samson, Dube and other youngsters. Moreover, the new entrants into the setup should also be made familiar with Kohli’s captaincy style, because his and Rohit Sharma's methods are quite different.
As a player too, despite a terrific average of 50, Kohli is yet to tick some boxes which lesser players have done - such as getting a T20I hundred. Playing more T20Is would help him rectify some of these anomalies.
More importantly, it would put him at the helm of affairs in getting the best possible team ready come the ICC T20 World Cup next year. He certainly cannot do that by continuing to skip T20Is.