Should Virat Kohli open for Team India? Here’s what statistics suggest

FPJ Web DeskUpdated: Monday, September 19, 2022, 07:59 PM IST
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India skipper Rohit Sharma, ahead of the clash against Australia in the first T20I of the three-match series, hinted at Virat Kohli opening the batting in the upcoming T20 World Cup in Australia.

Rohit and KL Rahul are the established opening pair for Team India across all formats.

Unfortunately, after KL Rahul underwent surgery for a sports hernia and was out of the national squad for a long time during which he was down with COVID-19, the Indian team management experimented with many options — Ishan Kishan, Rishabh Pant and even Suryakumar Yadav — for the opening spot.

When India played in the 2021 T20 World Cup in the UAE, Kishan was the back-up opening option. But with him missing the bus for this year's T20 World Cup, Kohli is now being seen as a third opener. He hit an unbeaten 122 off just 61 balls, laced with 12 fours and six sixes, at a strike-rate of 200 against Afghanistan in India's last Super Four match of Asia Cup 2022.

Return of KL Rahul

Now, with KL Rahul back in India fold and Rohit maintaining that the Lucknow Super Giants’ skipper will be the first choice to open the batting with him, Kohli will be a back-up opener.

But the question is, does Kohli merit to open the innings with Rohit. The former India kipper has opened for IPL franchise, Royal Challlengers Bangalore (RCB).

For RCB, Kohli has opened the batting 84 times scoring 2972 runs at a strike-rate of 134.54. His opening stint for the IPL franchise includes 5 centuries and 20 half-centuries. The most noticeable statistic is that he has scored 22.48 per cent of the team’s runs.

Captain's backing

Even captain Rohit highlighted Kohli’s performance as an opener for RCB in a recent press conference. "We understand the quality of all our players and what they bring to us. But Virat Kohli opening is an option for us, we will always keep that in mind. Since we have not taken the third opener, he opens for his franchise and he has done really well while playing at that position, so it is a definite option for us," said Rohit. "We are so happy the way Virat played against Afghanistan, we haven't taken the third opener in the World Cup so he is an option for us if needed in the mega event," he added.

But how has the former World No.1 T20 batsman fared as an opener in the India jersey?

Opening for India

Kohli has opened the innings 9 times for India, scoring 400 runs at a strike-rate of 161.29 at an average of 57.14. He has scored one century and two half-centuries.

Captain Rohit and coach Rahul Dravid have resorted to experimenting with the batting positions in the previous few series. And going by the trend, it wouldn’t come as surprise if Kohli opened the innings for India in T20Is.

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