Explained: The Debate Around Virat Kohli's Selection In India's T20I Squad
Following Kapil Dev's "reputation" comment, many players have come to support Kohli and his selection for India's T20I
On July 9, Kapil Dev made headlines after making a comment on Virat Kohli. Following Kohli's performance in recent games, Kapil Dev highlighted how BCCI needs to prioritise players who are in form rather than preferring stars due to their reputation. This exclusive interview led to debates regarding Kohli's selection in the Indian squad for T20Is. While the 1983 World Cup-winning skipper felt that there are players who are able to perform in the shortest format for India, others including skipper Rohit Sharma have provided support to Kohli.
What Did Kapil Dev Say?
Kapil Dev highlighted the decline in Kohli's form across all three formats of cricket in the last couple of years. In an interview with ABP News, Kapil Dev weighed in on Kohli's place in the current Indian T20I team, saying "Play in-form players when you have loads of options. You can't just go by reputation, but you have to look for current form. You can be an established player but that doesn't mean that you will be given chances even if you fail five games in a row."
Kapil Dev also highlighted how erstwhile World number 2 Test bowler Ravichandran Ashwin was dropped from the Test squad and the same can be Virat Kohli's case, despite him being a former World number 1 batsman. He said, "Yes, there will be a headache, but he will have to perform better. If world No. 2 Test bowler Ashwin can be dropped from Test side then your No. 1 batter can also be dropped."
He also said, "I hope Kohli scores runs. And if there's a [selection] challenge after that, it's a big one. At the moment, Virat Kohli isn't playing like the Kohli we know, the one that has made him a legend through his performances.
Dev continued, stating "If he isn't performing, you can't continue to keep these boys [youngsters] out. I hope there's a healthy fight for selection, the youngsters should look to outperform Kohli. But Kohli needs to think, 'yes at one point I was a big player, but I need to play like that No. 1 player again'. That's a problem for the team, it's not a bad problem." Along with Kapil Dev, even Virender Sehwag and Venkatesh Prasad have questioned Virat Kohli's place in the Indian T20I squad.
The Challengers Against Virat Kohli
During the exclusive interview with Kapil Dev, ABP Sports Editor G.S. Vivek also pointed out how youngsters like Deepak Hooda and Suryakumar Yadav have performed well recently for India and if Kohli can be kept out of the T20I squad. Hooda made headlines after scoring a century against Ireland in Malahide, Dublin. His quick-fire knock of 33 against England impressed many critics.
In the last T20I against England, Suryakumar Yadav scored 117 at Trent Bridge, Nottingham, making it the highest T20I individual score by an Indian outside India. With their performances, both Hooda and SKY aim to impress the selectors ahead of the T20 World Cup, scheduled to be played in Australia in October and November 2022.
KL Rahul is another middle-order batsman, who is currently out of the squad after sustaining a groin injury. The Lucknow Supergiants skipper was announced as Team India captain for the T20I series at home against South Africa before the injury forced him out. His captaincy duties were later replaced by Rishabh Pant.
In IPL 2022, Rahul had a memorable season scoring 600-plus runs for a third consecutive season. He scored 616 runs for LSG in 15 matches where the batter scored four half-centuries and two centuries, coming second in the Orange Cap ranking behind Jos Buttler.
On the contrary, Virat Kohli's form has dipped. The former Indian skipper scored only 1 run. In the third T20I at Nottingham, Kohli scored only 11 runs. He was rested during the first T20I following the Test match. In IPL 2022, Kohli was able to manage only two half-centuries for Royal Challengers Bangalore. In 16 innings, Kohli was able to amass 341 runs with an average of 22.73.
For India, Kohli has registered scores of 17, 52, 1 and 11 in the four T20Is he has played so far, with an average of 2025. The former World number one has overall played 99 T20Is for Team India, scoring 3308 runs with a current average of 50.12.
This statistical average still presents him as a top contender for the number 3 position and his overall experience has received support from many people, including skipper Rohit Sharma and Sunil Gavaskar.
What Did Rohit Sharma And Sunil Gavaskar Say?
Rohit Sharma returned to captaincy duties for Team India in the T20I series after missing out on the fifth Test match due to Covid-19. The Indian captain came forward with his support for Virat Kohli in a press conference, disagreeing with Kapil Dev's comment, saying "He is watching the game from outside and does not know what is happening inside. We have our thought process. We build our team and behind this, there is a lot of thinking. We back the boys and give them opportunities. So, these things you do not get to know from outside".
The internet was quick to remember the time when Rohit Sharma was going through a rough patch of form, and Virat Kohli stepped up to provide support. In a press conference, a journalist once asked if Rohit Sharma can be replaced by Ishan Kishan to which the former Indian skipper was left stunned before reverse-questioning the journalist, asking if Rohit Sharma can be dropped from the squad.
Sunil Gavaskar also came out with his support for Kohli, saying, "See, I cannot understand that when Rohit Sharma does not score runs no one talks about it. It is the same with other players as well. There is a saying that form is temporary, class is temperament. See, the kind of template they are adopting (in T20Is) where they have to swing the bat from ball one, you will succeed and fail".
With the T20 World Cup nearing soon, Kohli would be aiming to cement his position for the number three spot before BCCI announces the squad heading to Australia. Gavaskar added, "We have a good selection committee which is thinking about it. I think there is enough time (more than two months) to announce the squad for the upcoming T20 World Cup 2022. There will be several competitive Asian countries participating in the event. You will have to pick your team keeping in mind the form of a player. There is no need to panic yet and we need to give them some time".
In the two T20Is against England, Kohli displayed a change in his game style that goes with the current blueprint of India's T20I approach under Dravid. He was able to score a total of 12 runs. While his 1-run inning in the second T20I at Edgbaston did not come according to plan, his gameplay in the third T20I at Trent Bridge displayed some vintage Kohli element. The sixer against David Willey's ball at long-on was one example of how he outclassed Rohit and Pant in the third T20I.
Virat Kohli has been ruled out of the first ODI against England at the Kennington Oval, London after sustaining a groin strain. The team management wishes for Kohli to regain his fitness for the remaining two ODIs, set to take place at Lord's on July 14 and Old Trafford, Manchester on July 17.
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