Former Sri Lanka skipper Mahela Jayawardene believes that talismanic India batter Virat Kohli has got the tools to come out of a prolonged slump in form.
On Monday, Kohli, along with fellow batter KL Rahul, made a return to India's T20I side for the Asia Cup, starting from August 27 in the UAE. Kohli has been in a prolonged lean patch, not scoring a century in international cricket since November 2019.
He returns to the side having last featured during India's tour of England in July and was rested for white-ball tour of West Indies and the upcoming ODIs against Zimbabwe.
Kohli also has been short of T20I match practice since the 2021 World Cup, playing just four games -- two against the West Indies at home and two against England. He didn't have an impressive IPL 2022, making just two half-centuries and a total of 341 runs from 16 innings for Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB).
"It is unfortunate what Virat is going through right now at the moment, but he is a quality player. I believe Virat has the tools to come out of it (the form slump). He has done that in the past as well and I'm sure he'll come through this. Class is permanent and form is temporary," said Jayawardene in the latest episode of The ICC Review show.
Apart from Kohli, Rahul's return will garner huge interest from Indian fans, who has been out of action since participating in IPL 2022 in May. A groin injury ruled him out of the T20I series against South Africa at home in June. He then underwent a sports hernia surgery in Germany, ruling him out of England tour.
Rahul was set to return during India's T20I series against West Indies, but a positive Covid-19 test ahead of the tour meant he wasn't included in the trip to the Caribbean and ODIs against Zimbabwe. Jayawardene is worried that Rahul's lack of cricket at the highest level will work against him in the Asia Cup.
'Lack of cricket'
"That (Rahul's lack of cricket) would be a concern for India. He has been out for a little while since the IPL, so having game time is quite crucial especially out there in the middle. The sooner he can get some game time and get that confidence back, is always going to help him, as well as the national team."
Jayawardene felt that if Rahul doesn't come good as an opener during Asia Cup, India can go back to opening with Rishabh Pant, who opened twice in T20Is against England in July. "Even though he (Pant) hasn't done that (open the batting) much in domestic cricket, he has the capacity to do that. Wherever he bats, you're not going to change his game. He is going to be a very natural player so yes, it is an option (for Pant to open)."