Keeping the limelight away from Virat Kohli is a tough job. After a successful Asia Cup – Kohli ended up as the second highest-run scorer (276) of the tournament with a much better strike rate and average than the top spot holder Pakistan’s Mohammad Rizwan – the questions about Kohli’s form (or the lack of it) have now quickly been replaced with how to put a lid on his scoring. Similar questions on Kohli were asked to Australia stalwarts Pat Cummins and Aaron Finch ahead of their three-match T20I series against India starting Tuesday in Mohali. While both the senior Australian cricketers were on the same page about Kohli’s class, it was Finch who gave an eloquent answer.
The Australia T20I captain termed Kohli as ‘one of the greatest players of all time’ and said the opposition teams have to be really ‘brave’ to count someone of Kohl’s calibre out. “You’d be a very very brave man to write off Virat at any stage. He has shown for 15 years now, that he is one of the greatest players of all time. Particularly in T20 cricket, he is someone who has developed his game and grown his game over for such a long period. You are always trying to prepare to the best of your ability when you are coming up against Virat,” said Finch during a press conference in Mohali on Monday.
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Ahead of the series opener on Tuesday, Kohli was by far the most impressive Indian batter on display in the nets. He was attacking the pacers and pacers alike. He was authoritative in his drives, pounced on anything that was short and used his feet so regularly against spinners as if it was a crime to stay inside the crease.
“He is superb… 71 international hundreds, that is just ridiculous, isn’t it,” Finch added, talking about Kohli’s record-breaking maiden T20I hundred against Afghanistan in the Asia Cup. The former India captain hit 122* off 61 balls, which is the highest T20I score by an Indian. He did that while opening the batting with KL Rahul as captain Rohit had decided to sit out of India’s final match in the tournament – they had no chance of making it to the final.
Kohli’s innings gave rise to the debate whether he should permanently slot in at the top of the order with Rohit. The debate was settled by Rohit when he said Kohli is a backup option and KL Rahul will open the batting for India in the Australia and South Africa home series and also in the World Cup next month.
“Virat Kohli is our third opener. In the last match of the Asia Cup, we were happy with the way he played. KL Rahul will open the batting in the World Cup, his performance sometimes goes quite unnoticed. He is a very important player for Team India. For us, I just want to make it clear that we are clear in our thought process. We do not have any confusion, we are very clear about what KL Rahul brings to the table for us, he is a quality player and is very important for us. His presence at the top is very crucial for us,” Rohit said.