Ever since Virat Kohli ended his century drought earlier this month with a magnificent 122* in Asia Cup as an opener for India a T20I game, the debate sparked on whether the former India captain should take on the batting position at the impending T20 World Cup. Veterans and experts have all had their say on the topic, but former India head coach Ravi Shastri gave a brutal response on the discussion on Friday.
India’s mainstay openers have been captain Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul. With the latter missing out the entire of India’s summer campaign, the management looked at a lot many options for the opening slot before Rahul returned to open in Asia Cup. And as the batter struggled to find his rhythm back, Kohli managed to notch up his maiden T20I ton in the only opportunity he got to open in the tournament.
Experts and former cricketers have since backed the idea, but Shastri, in his conversation with Star Sports during the 2nd T20I between India and Australia in Nagpur, has lashed out at the discussion explaining that it can only affect Rahul’s mentality and preparation for the World Cup.
“I wouldn’t want that. I would want Rahul and Rohit. Only if there is emergency or there is injury then it is fine otherwise I feel that you need that depth in the lower middle order and the experience especially in the Australian conditions where as a fast bowler you cab get wickets in the middle over. There is enough bounce there and you can be aggressive and you can try and hustle out batters in those middle overs. So you know the experience of Kohli out there will be very important,” he said.
“And Rahul is batting beautifully at the top. Why cloud his imagination? Why confuse him? Why sow a seed in his mind that he might not be opening? You don’t want that. You don’t want that guy to have clarity of thought absolutely clear in his mindset that he is going to open and he is going to score and score big.”
Rahul has however scored back-to-back fifties now for India as an opener. He scored 62 runs in the same match Kohli had scored that ton and pulled off a 35-ball 55 against Australia in Mohali on Tuesday.