Ricky Ponting suggests different role for Virat Kohli at T20 World Cup


Wednesday, 22 May 2024 (15:06 IST)
Dubai: ICC Hall of Famer Ricky Ponting believes Virat Kohli remains the first player picked in India’s XI for next month’s ICC Men’s T20 World Cup and has revealed where he thinks the star right-hander should bat.
With the Men’s T20 World Cup around the corner, there is a great buzz around the selections and strategies of the Indian cricket team and who should be chosen in their XI for their tournament opener against Ireland in New York on June 5.
While Kohli has been in fine form in the role of opener for Royal Challengers Bangalore at the ongoing Indian Premier League with a tournament-best 708 runs from 14 innings, questions have been raised about his strike rate at the top of the batting order.
Australia legend Ponting, a three-time ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup winner, says that while strike rates have taken precedence over averages in recent times, Kohli remains as relevant to India’s fortunes as before.
“The mantra I think for the teams three or four years ago, was making sure that someone at the top of the order made 80 or 100, even if it took them 60 balls, it didn't really matter,” Ponting told the ICC.
“I think it's sort of shifting now to be more of a strike rate based game where you can have a massive impact on a game with a 40 off 15 balls rather than getting an 80 off 55 balls sort of thing,” he said.
While Kohli has primarily batted at No.3 for India in the shortest format in the past, Ponting thinks the 35-year-old will be best served opening the batting alongside skipper Rohit Sharma at the T20 World Cup.
“They (selectors) have still got a decision to make because Yashasvi Jaiswal is in that squad and one thing they haven't got a lot in their team is left-hand batters,” Ponting noted.
“So they've got a decision to make with Jaiswal, but I'm pretty sure that they'll go with Kohli and Rohit Sharma as openers,” he said.
Ponting is once again backing Kohli to deliver on the biggest stage of all at next month’s T20 World Cup.
“It's funny with Virat. I think people in India just always try to find a reason not to pick him or a reason why he's maybe not as good as some of these other guys in the T20 game,” he said.
“He (Kohli) is the first pick for me for India," Ponting said.
“He can play his role at the top. And if you've got the right guys around him scoring like Suryakumar Yadav...Rohit Sharma's going to have a high strike rate. These other guys can go in there and play their way,” Ponting said.
Kohli was the leading run-getter at the last Men’s T20 World Cup, playing crucial knocks in key games such as his 82 not out against Pakistan and an even 50 against England in the semi-finals.
According to Ponting, Kohli’s quality to stand out in big matches worked in his favour.
“I remember having this chat and some other chats I did for the ICC about there's some talk about Virat not being in their team only last year, but what happened when the big games come around, he was one of the guys who got the job done,” Ponting noted.
“So class and experience like that, you can't replace,” he added.

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