Opinion: Virat Kohli should skip IPL 2019 and play all international matches leading up to World Cup 2019
In recent times, the BCCI has been managing the workload of all its players, especially the key ones, to keep them fresh for the more important future assignments such as the upcoming Australian tour and then the all-important T20 World Cup.
Along with other key players, especially bowlers such as Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar, it’s the captain of the team and the cornerstone of Indian batting, Virat Kohli, whose workload is being managed with utmost care and attention.
The workload of the other key batsmen from the World cup perspective such as Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, MS Dhoni or even those of Ambati Rayudu or Kedar Jadhav need not be managed, primarily because none of them currently play all the formats of the game.
It’s Virat who is the single most important player for India in all formats of the game. He will have to be at his absolute best if India has to perform well in the Australian tour later this year and in the ICC World Cup in England next year.
So, it’s only fair that the BCCI has been carefully managing his workload. BCCI even weathered the storm from the broadcasters for its decision to exclude Kohli from the Asia Cup.
But from now onwards, Kohli should try to play all the international matches leading up to the world cup. He should start doing that from the ongoing bilateral series against West Indies, onwards.
The matches against the West Indies in Indian conditions will not be too taxing on his body or mind. He can play in a relaxed manner, knowing fully well that unlike some other more important series, and in more difficult conditions, his batting colleagues can rescue his team in the unlikely scenario of him failing with the bat, in the familiar Indian conditions.
For a batsman of Kohli’s pedigree, he should be given this rare opportunity to express himself as a batsman and play freely, as in the subsequent series and tournaments after this one, he will not have that luxury. Tons of runs and a couple of more centuries in his bag should keep him happy as a batsman too.
And it’s not just his batting, his captaincy also will be largely helped if he marshals his troupe in all formats. He can get to learn the weaknesses and strengths of his team-mates, especially the relatively new ones such as Pant and Shaw if he does not take breaks from batting and captaincy.
Moreover, after the West Indies series, he will take India to Down Under where he will play a crucial series against the Australians. Apart from playing all the Tests there, he must also play all the ODIs and T20Is. There are enough gaps between those matches. He can actually skip the practice matches, as unlike his teammates, he does not need any, at the moment.
After the Australian tour, India have a short tour to New Zealand and then Australia comes to India. All those matches are in the shorter format, mostly ODIs with a few T20Is. Playing in such matches against two strong bowling units is an absolute must to keep Kohli match-fit for the most important assignment of 2019 – the ICC World Cup.
If at all Kohli has to skip anything, he should skip the 2019 IPL that is scheduled just before the World Cup. That way he will save himself from possible fatigue and injury concerns which may jeopardize India’s chances in the World Cup. IPLs come every year; not the World Cup.
But the million-dollar question is - will he be allowed to skip IPL 2019?