The concept of Kohli opening in T20Is was sharply opposed by Suresh Raina, who is now an authority in cricket. He underlined how effective left-right opening combinations have historically been.
Cricket fans are engaged in a passionate discussion for the ninth time on Virat Kohli’s ability to open matches for India in Twenty20 Internationals, particularly in light of the upcoming T20 World Cup.
The story began in 2021 when Kohli chose to start with Rohit Sharma against England. This was an experiment that paid off, as Kohli scored 80 runs off of 52 balls without losing. at he started playing at the opening position for his IPL team, the Royal Challengers Bangalore, this inspired Kohli to investigate the concept further.
In 2022, discussions took a back seat until Kohli’s sensational 122 against Afghanistan in the Asia Cup, breaking his century drought. Though the experiment never materialized in a T20 World Cup game, India’s head coach Rahul Dravid hinted at the possibility in the ongoing T20I series against Afghanistan or the upcoming ICC event in June. However, two-time World Cup winner Suresh Raina dismissed the notion.
Addressing the media ahead of the T20I series against Afghanistan, Dravid, while initially confirming Yashasvi Jaiswal as Rohit’s opening partner, did not outright dismiss the notion of Kohli opening during the series. Dravid emphasised that the batting order would be determined by a player’s ability against the bowling attack and the prevailing circumstances rather than sticking to left-right combinations.
“Kohli’s opening with Rohit is not closed. We have no doubt that players with the talent and skill sets that Rohit and Kohli have would be able to find solutions against various bowling attacks,” Dravid stated, as cited by the Hindustan Times. He emphasized that players should not just concentrate on left-right combinations, but also on their ability to fend off different bowling attacks.
A case for Kohli’s possible promotion to the top of the order might be made from his lackluster middle-overs performance, especially when facing spinners. IPL statistics from 2020 show that during the middle phase, there is a boundary every 10.6 deliveries, or little less than 7 runs per over. When up against spinners, these figures even worsen, with a boundary occurring every 14.7 deliveries and a scoring rate of 6.3.
Since Yasasvi will likely begin with Rohit Raina if he plays, I think Kohli should bat at number three.
Given these figures, Raina—who is now an expert in cricket—vehemently disagreed with the notion that Kohli should open T20Is. He highlighted the past achievements of left-right opening combinations, pointing to the pairings of Sourav Ganguly and Sachin Tendulkar in the 2000s and Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag in the 2010s.
“If Yasasvi plays, he would open alongside Rohit because of that left-right combination, which is why I think Kohli should bat at No. 3. We’ve seen in the past when Sachin and Dada (Sourav Ganguly) used to play, or when Gambhir and Sehwag used to play,” Raina said to Hindustan Times.
They are both attacking hitters, so it’s not only the mix that makes them effective. When Kohli is ranked third, India’s lineup appears more reliable. He maintains the scoreboard ticking over by running between the wickets.To me, No. 3 is the perfect spot for him. But Yashasvi can bat at No. 3 if the management believes he should open. However, I think Yashasvi ought to open because he’s young and demonstrates that intent as well, so India can get off to a strong start early on,” Raina continued.
In spite of the current controversy, Raina was in favor of Kohli and Rohit playing in the T20I series because he believed that their experience would be beneficial to India’s chances in the next T20 World Cup.
“Having two veteran players who have participated in the majority of T20I matches for India is a great move. And their recent performance is excellent, particularly in the ODI World Cup. In addition, the T20 World Cup locations will have some challenging pitches. They require players with experience. In T20 cricket, Rohit is a seasoned leader who adds a great deal of skill to the team, while Kohli is close to reaching the milestone of 12,000 runs. Thus, their inclusion on the team gives it more strength and experience. India can win the T20 World Cup now that Rohit and Kohli are back,” Raina said.