The Virat debate: Should Kohli make T20 World Cup cut?

Virat Kohli. Source: IPL

As the countdown to the T20 World Cup squad announcement continues, the cricketing world is abuzz with speculations over Virat Kohli’s inclusion in the squad. The question looms; should the legendary batsman secure a spot, or is it time to usher in a new generation of talent for the marquee event? RevSportz delved into the opinions of fans and experts from across India and beyond.

Amid debates over Kohli’s strike-rate, observations from the ongoing IPL season add new dimensions to the discussion. Brian Lara, the West Indies legend, weighed in on the strike-rate debate at Star Sports Press Room: “The strike-rate depends on position, and for an opener strike-rate of 130-140 is pretty all right. But if you are coming in the middle-order, then you may be required to hit at 150 or 160. As you have seen in this IPL, batsmen are hitting at 200 in the latter part of an innings.”

Lara added: “But an opener like Kohli always has the chance of starting at 130, bat through the overs and finish at 160 or even higher, which is all right. But if you ask me, India’s top three in the World Cup should be Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and Shubman Gill irrespective of all this.”

Sourabh Sanyal, a fervent cricket enthusiast from Bengaluru, leaves no room for doubt: “Virat Kohli must be selected. His experience and run-scoring ability are crucial for India’s campaign. He has won India crunch matches, remember that knock against Pakistan in Melbourne?”

Echoing this sentiment is Jay Bhavsar from Mumbai, who asserts: ‘I would want someone like Virat Kohli in my team. It’s a no-brainer. People will talk about his strike-rate, but look at his hunger to score runs. He is a proven match-winner for India and will be my first player on the team sheet after captain Rohit Sharma.”

Kohli’s performance in previous ICC tournaments emerges as a compelling argument for his inclusion. Not only was he India’s best batter at the 2022 T20 World Cup, but he was actually the best batter in the tournament overall, scoring 296 runs from six innings at an average of 98.66.

“He should be part of the team. When you pick a side, you pick a side to play in all conditions. The pitches in the West Indies are low and slow generally and we don’t know what kind of tracks we will get in the USA. We need to pick a squad that can play in all situations and who better than Virat Kohli to play in alien conditions?” says Rahul Patil from Wellington, New Zealand.

“From Kohli’s perspective, he should understand that the game is moving forward and he needs to tweak a few things, not a whole lot of it, but a few things just to make sure he is an indispensable member of the T20 World Cup squad,” he adds.

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Virat Kohli for the Royal Challengers Bengaluru. Source (X)

In five matches in the IPL 2024, Kohli has already scored two half-centuries as well as a century, which came during RCB’s most recent loss at the Sawai Mansingh stadium in Jaipur. While Kohli leads the run-scoring charts in the ongoing edition of the tournament, with a staggering 316 runs in just 5 innings, his strike-rate of 146 has raised eyebrows.

Not all voices are in unison. Dr V Manjunath from Bengaluru offers a contrasting perspective: “My honest opinion is no. He is an analog man in the digital world. The game has moved forward and this kind of batting template is an anachronism for this era. So, I feel we should go with younger batters who can give you 50 runs in 20 balls. A couple of such cameos can win you matches so I really don’t see a future of this brand of cricket where you play 60 per cent of the balls and the team doesn’t finish on a good score.”

Arjun from Mumbai dittos: “Virat should not be part of the squad. He has been playing a bit tentatively in the IPL. There are times where he slows down after he reaches the 80s. The T20 format should be a format where youngsters are given a shot, for example, the 2007 World T20. It is high time that we give younger players a chance.”

Despite the diversity of opinions, Kohli’s recent IPL form and past successes in international tournaments present a compelling case for his inclusion. And he, in all likelihood, will be part of the T20 World Cup squad.

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