Clearing the air over Virat Kohlis role and batting position in the upcoming ICC T20 World Cup 2022, India captain Rohit Sharma on Sunday (September 18) said that the team management is open to exploring the idea of using the former skipper as an opening batter in the marquee event.

The three-T20I series against Australia starts September 20 in Mohali as Team India aims to fine-tune its preparations ahead of the showpiece event Down Under.

Talking about Kohli’s role on the side, the Mumbaikar said, “It is always nice to have options available for you. It is important going into a World Cup that you have flexibility. You want the players to be in the best shape batting at any position. When we try and do something new, that does not mean that’s a problem.”

Backing Kohli, who regained his form during the Asia Cup 2022 with his consistent batting performances in the game, Rohit said, “For us, we understand the quality of all our players and what they bring for us. But yeah, it is an option (Virat Kohli opening) for us, we will always keep that in mind. Since we have not taken a third opener, he opens for his franchise in the IPL and he has done really well, so it is a definite option for us.”

Rohit admitted that Kohli will be the team’s opening batter in some games and that his match-winning T20I century against Afghanistan in the Super 4 stage in Asia Cup has given the team a big boost.

“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, we do not want to experiment with that position a lot, his performance sometimes goes quite unnoticed,” the right-handed opening batter said.

Highlighting the importance of Kohli for his team, the 35-year-old further 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 about 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.”

Mohammed Shami tested positive for COVID-19 just before the opening game and the right-arm quick will now be replaced by seamer Umesh Yadav.

“There were few options, but few of them are injured like Prasidh. Siraj is playing county, we do not want him to fly all the way, maybe play one or two games. That won’t be fair. Obviously, Shami’s unfortunate incident with him. Avesh was quite sick in the Asia Cup and he needs some time to recover. From fitness point of view, he needed some time and rebuild his fitness. All those things were considered. Guys like Umesh, Shami, who have been bowling for a long time, they do not need to be playing a format to be considered,” said Rohit.

“They have proven themselves as players in whichever format they have played. We understand the quality, it is the new guys on whom it will depend whether they have played this format or not. But guys like Umesh and Shami, if they are fit and fine, they will be called back. We don’t need to look at their form, we saw how Umesh bowled in the IPL,” he stated further.

Further talking about Umesh’s selection, Rohit said: “He bowled really well, he swings the ball, bowls fast. That was the thought, pretty simple actually. It was not much of a discussion for us. Keeping in mind World Cup is around the corner, we have tried a lot of players. We are very much clear in our thought process and how we want to move forward,”

India’s T20I squad for Australia series: Rohit Sharma (c), KL Rahul (vice-captain), Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Deepak Hooda, Rishabh Pant, Dinesh Karthik, Hardik Pandya, R. Ashwin, Yuzvendra Chahal, Axar Patel, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Harshal Patel, Deepak Chahar, Jasprit Bumrah, Umesh Yadav.