No place for Hardik Pandya, Shubman Gill as Ajit Agarkar sent brand new 'Virat Kohli should open in T20 WC' suggestion | Crickit
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No place for Hardik Pandya, Shubman Gill as Ajit Agarkar sent brand new 'Virat Kohli should open in T20 WC' suggestion

Apr 12, 2024 06:54 PM IST

In international cricket, Virat Kohli has opened only nine times, scoring 400 runs at a strike rate of 161.29, including that sensational 122* in Asia Cup 2022

With exactly a fortnight's time left before BCCI announces the 15-member squad for India's T20 World Cup tournament in June, chief selector Ajit Agarkar has been sent a brand new suggestion. Former New Zealand cricketer Simon Doull wants India to feature Virat Kohli, who has been in sublime touch in the ongoing IPL 2024, as an opener as he revealed his likely XI for the Men in Blue, which does not feature the likes of Hardik Pandya and Shubman Gill.

Mumbai Indians captain Hardik Pandya and Royal Challengers Bengaluru's player Virat Kohli exchange greetings after the IPL 2024 cricket match against Royal Challengers Bengaluru and Mumbai Indians at Wankhede Stadium(PTI)
Mumbai Indians captain Hardik Pandya and Royal Challengers Bengaluru's player Virat Kohli exchange greetings after the IPL 2024 cricket match against Royal Challengers Bengaluru and Mumbai Indians at Wankhede Stadium(PTI)

Kohli batted at No. 3 in 80 out of the 109 T20I innings he played for India, scoring 3076 runs at 53.96. That has long been his preferable position in white-ball cricket, whether in T20Is or ODIs. However, in the ongoing IPL 2024, Kohli is currently the Orange Cap holder after smashing 319 runs in six innings at a strike rate of 141.78 with a century and two fifties.

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Amazed at his form, Doull, in conversation on Cricbuzz, reckoned that Kohli, who also previously opened in IPL 2015, 2016, 2019, 2021 and 2023, should open for India as that it would allow the management to fit in Rinku Singh in the XI, who he feels is a must.

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“I think Virat should open...100 per cent. I don't think he should bat at number three, because if he does, then Rinku Singh will miss out. And in my India starting XI, Rinku has to play. Therefore, Virat's got to open the batting. Now who he opens with, up to you. If it is Rohit Sharma or Jaiswal. But Kohli has to open, because in the modern game that is his best position. He hits the quick bowlers as good as anyone and he times the ball beautifully. Coming in and starting against spin is not his best option,” he said.

In international cricket, Kohli has opened only nine times, scoring 400 runs at a strike rate of 161.29, including that sensational 122* in Asia Cup 2022. In IPL history, Kohli has scored 3930 runs as an opener at a strike rate of 135.93. All his eight centuries in his IPL career came as an opener.

No place for Hardik, Shubman and …

Doull further revealed his ideal playing XI for India with Kohli as an opener, and it featured neither Mumbai Indians captain and all-rounder Hardik Pandya, nor did Gujarat Titans skipper Shubman or wicketkeeper-batter Rishabh Pant. The former cricketer rather back Sanju Samon for the keeping role and stressed in the inclusion of Chennai Super Kings star Shivam Dube in the middle-order.

“It sounds stupid to me but if Jaiswal is out. But if that's the case, you could have Sanju at 3, Suryakumar at 4, Dube and Rinku at 5 and 6, Jadeja at 7,” he added.

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