India captain Rohit Sharma said that the team management is definitely looking at Virat Kohli as the third opener in the lead up to the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup in Australia next month. As India prepare for the multi-team event, the will first take on Australia next in a three-match Twenty20 International series set to begin on Tuesday in Mohali, followed by a series against South Africa.
While opening for India against Afghanistan in the Asia Cup, Virat Kohli recorded his first international hundred in almost three years and his first ever in T20Is. As a result, a case could be made for him to be looked at as an opening option for India.
In the press conference ahead of the T20 series, Rohit said, “It is always nice to have options available for you, especially if you are going into the tournament, you want that flexibility. It’s an option for us, and since we have not taken the third opener, he can obviously open.”
“He opens for his franchise (Royal Challengers Bangalore in the Indian Premier League), and he has done really well. It’s a definite option for us,” he added.
Kohli’s exploits at the top came when opener KL Rahul is struggling to find his rhythm after returning from injury. However, Rohit clarified that opting for Kohli as third opener would not mean that there would be any experimentation with the regular opening duo of him and Rahul.
Against Afghanistan, Kohli opened as Rohit Sharma sat the match out to rest.
“Virat Kohli is our third opener and he will open in some of the games. In the last match of Asia Cup, we were happy with the way he played. But KL Rahul will open the batting in the World Cup, his performance sometimes goes quite unnoticed,” he said.
“He is a very important player for Team India. For us, I just want to make it clear, we are clear in our thought process. We do not have any confusion, we are very clear what KL Rahul brings to the table for us, he is a quality player and is very important for us. His presence at the top is very crucial for us.”
Rohit also spoke about the significance of the T20Is against Australia and South Africa with the World Cup around the corner.
“I wanted to bring security in the team that is why we announced the team for both the series before the World Cup. In Asia Cup also we more less had the same team,” said Rohit.
“In these six games we want to keep trying what we can achieve with different styles. It is all about going out and trying to find ways of exploring ourselves but there is no limit to trying new things. You can extend yourself in so many directions to achieve so many things for the team.”
India have tried to adopt a more aggressive batting approach in recent times, with Rohit going particularly hard at the top of the order. The skipper said the team will continue to do the same and the players have understanding of their roles.
“We will continue to play like that. That is something we spoke quite clearly at the start of my (captaincy tenure) and everyone is comfortable with that. At the same time we know our second line of defence if we are in trouble. We spend a lot of time talking about these things,” he said.
“Guys are very clear if we are 10/3 how we need to bat. If we are 50 for no loss, how we need to bat. These have been discussed at length, it is just about executing now.”
Rohit added: “If you see our Asia Cup performance as well we posted par plus or par scores in every game except the one game against Sri Lanka where we got 173 which was also a good score. In Super 4s we had close games against Pakistan and Sri Lanka, it could have gone either way. You need a bit of luck as well. Hopefully we will get that in the World Cup.
“We will have another review meeting of the last 10 months after these six games and will see what we need to do in World Cup.”
(Quotes courtesy: NDTV and PTI)