Virat Kohli’s return to form in the Asia Cup has coincided with KL Rahul’s struggles as an opener. This has sparked a new debate ahead of the T20 World Cup: should the former India captain open the innings and not bat one-down? It also gained credence after Kohli notched up his maiden T20I century, against Afghanistan, when he opened with Rahul. Former openers Gautam Gambhir and Matthew Hayden feel Kohli should continue batting at No.3.
“In a T20 format, there is a huge difference in playing in the first six (overs) and after the first six. Virat goes into the Australia series with a lot of confidence and I hope he continues his form because he is going. Be very useful if India has to play well in the World Cup because it’s (No.3) a very important position,” Gambhir said during an interaction organized by Star Sports. Hayden echoed Gambhir and said there should be no debate on the issue.
“Virat, you know, he’s such a great player of fast bowling… And this great debate around Virat batting up… there’s no way that he has to open the batting, he has to bat at No. 3, simple as that,” Hayden said. “And again, it’s another one of those things. That you don’t want to let the door open to a discussion on this. You don’t want to have a doubt… Just let the batting order rely on its own form and Kohli can handle the situation. He’s a world-class player, he should bat at three.”
“He can manipulate the strike; his running is just off the charts. He can control the innings. I think the top four positions are locked,” Hayden said. Gambhir supported Hayden’s argument. “That’s a very valid point, the moment someone starts doing very well, for example. If Virat Kohli has got a hundred in the last game, we all start forgetting about what KL Rahul and Rohit Sharma have done over such a long period of time.
“If Shami starts performing really well, then there would. A a lot of question marks for selectors on why he is not on the plane to Australia. And imagine if Arshdeep, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, or Harshal Patel, if one of these is having a bad day, then there would be more question marks. So, go with the guys who you have already picked irrespective of whether they are doing well or not,” Gambhir said.