Virat Kohli Or KL Rahul: Who Should Open For India In The T20 World Cup?

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Virat Kohli Or KL Rahul: Who Should Open For India In The T20 World Cup?

KL Rahul Virat Kohli T20 World Cup 2022


Virat Kohli stormed back to form in the Asia Cup 2022, finishing as the tournament’s second-highest run-scorer - 276 runs in 5 innings at a strike rate of 147; Rizwan made 281 runs in 6 innings at strike rate of 117.

Kohli broke his 71st-century drought in the last game against Afghanistan, smashing 122* off 61 balls - his maiden T20I ton.

Kohli had opened the innings alongside KL Rahul - who also returned with confidence scoring 62 off 41 - as Rohit Sharma was rested with India already knocked out. This has once again rose the debate whether India’s best move to utilize Kohli in T20I cricket is to have him open alongside Rohit Sharma and moved KL Rahul in the middle; or some even believe Rahul should be dropped altogether given his form and his conservative approach, which has at times cost his IPL franchises.

KL Rahul
Image Source - NDTV Sports

A look at the numbers reveals that the idea of Virat Kohli opening for India has merit

Kohli has opened 9 times in T20Is for India wherein he’s scored 400 runs at an average of 57 with a strike rate of 161, hitting three fifty-plus scores (including the latest century). These are just staggering numbers of Kohli at the top.

These get even more astonishing when you look at his IPL stats as RCB’s opener: 84 innings, 20 fifties, 5 centuries, average of 41 and strike rate of 134, scoring 22 percent of his team’s runs in the games he’s opened.

How can one look at these numbers and not express amazement that Kohli doesn’t open for India regularly?

Let’s come to KL Rahul then: as an opener, Rahul has fared decently for India: average of 38, strike rate of 138. But it’s his recent form that’s raised doubts: since the start of 2021, in 16 T20Is Rahul has a strike rate of128 - and that’s quite low by the modern T20 standards, irrespective of the average. He finished the Asia Cup with a strike rate of 122, which is only elevated after him spanking a tired Afghanistan bowling attack.

Virat Kohli
Image Source - Twitter

And then the IPL numbers for which KLR gets berated regularly: Yes, he’s plundered big runs, scoring over 600 runs in each of the last three IPL seasons - but his strike rate which has hovered around 135 that’s frustrates fans - for we all know how dangerous Rahul could be but annoyingly chooses not to be; it is what has played a part in his teams (Punjab and now Lucknow) not making it big in the IPL, leaving everyone wondering what could be if KLR hits his straps and bats in the way that’s he’s so capable of.

India have still got 6 T20Is before they fly for Australia where they will play a couple of warm-up matches before the main event. Can Dravid and Sharma be bold to make a last-minute change and push Kohli at the top? But then where would KL Rahul go? He hasn’t batted in the middle in the IPL since 2018.

Conclusion:

If KL Rahul still doesn’t picks up his scoring rate and quashing his conservative approach in the upcoming home T20I vs Australia and South Africa - then it would be best for the team to have Kohli as an opener in the T20 World Cup.