Kohli – who recently slammed his maiden T20I century in the team’s last Asia Cup 2022 game – seems to have regained his form with the bat and could be a vital cog in Team India’s wheels in the marquee event Down Under, starting October 16.
Speaking exclusively on SPORTS18’s daily sports news show ‘SPORTS OVER THE TOP’, the former left-handed batter spoke about Kohli as an opener, said, “Look, in terms of should Virat be opening, I think it’s a great option. You look at his T20 numbers, they are outstanding. He averages about 55-57 and his strike rate is about 160. Those are phenomenal numbers. His last innings, again unbeaten innings of 122, tells you that he probably relishes opening as well. If memory serves me right, he wanted to open or he said he wanted to open in the Indian Premier League (IPL) in this edition or the last edition, he said that’s the spot I want to be. So, it’s obviously something that he wants to do. So, it’s definitely a big option for the Indian team.”
Gavaskar – who has played for Mumbai and Bengal in the domestic circuit – further expressed his views on the change in Suryakumar Yadav’s position in the batting order if Kohli starts as an opener.
“It does open up those options and you’re right, SKY batting at number 3 it’s a pleasing thought. But I have to say if Virat opens, he showed what a tremendous success he is as an opener. It means one of my favourite players will have to make way which is KL Rahul. Because KL Rahul, I’ve said this before, he’s an absolute class act. So look, it’s one of those tricky sort of situations but SKY at number 3, I think that’s what we want. His numbers you know and as rightly said, he’s one of the best batters in T20.”
Speaking about Kohli’s sensational century against Afghanistan in the dead rubber, Gavaskar said, “With all due respect, you’re talking to someone who has never scored a hundred. You ask any cricketer, doesn’t matter what level you play on, a hundred is a hundred. And this was an international hundred. Whether you score a hundred at a club level, whether you score a hundred at first-class level, it doesn’t matter. A hundred is a hundred. And this, at the end of the day, was an international hundred. So, I don’t bind to these theories of a weakened opposition. No. It was an excellent hundred and that’s what it was. Forget about the weakened opposition, it was an international hundred.”
Giving his take on Kohli’s performance in the death overs, the cricketer-turned-commentator said, “When you say lethal, he was back to the Virat that we know. Back to the Virat, that 2016 Virat, an unbelievable run-scoring machine that he was in T20. So, he looked to be in that kind of form, which is great because he’s peaking at the right time. With the big one, the world cup coming up, what you want is your players to peak at the right time and seems like he’s speaking at the right time.”
The 15-member Indian T20I squad for the World Cup was announced on Monday (September 13) by the selectors and there has been no surprise in the squad.