Do India Really Need Virat Kohli For T20 World Cup 2024? Here’s An Answer

Do India Really Need Virat Kohli For T20 World Cup 2024? Here's An Answer
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The T20 World Cup 2024 begins just a few days after the Indian Premier League 2024 concludes, and it provides another opportunity for India to end their ICC trophy drought. Plenty of players will be hoping to make the cut for India’s 15-member squad for the 2024 T20 World Cup in West Indies and USA. With the ongoing IPL season seen as auditions for the marquee ICC event, India’s think tank will be carefully analysing player performances with some spots in the squad still up for grabs.

India’s batting though will still revolve around Virat Kohli, who is wearing the Orange Cap after smashing 316 runs in five innings at an average of 105.33 and a strike rate of 146.30 this season.

The right-hander has hit three 50-plus scores in IPL 2024, including the highest score of an unbeaten 113 for Royal Challengers Bengaluru against Rajasthan Royals.

Opening the batting for RCB this season, Kohli’s strike rate has been significantly higher than his overall IPL strike rate of 130.63. However, it it will be interesting to see how Kohli will be utilised by the Men in Blue in the T20 World Cup.

While he has donned the role of aggressor as an opener for RCB this season, Kohli has also shown that he’s still capable of anchoring an innings if the situation demands him to. His unbeaten 113 against Rajasthan and 83 not out against Kolkata Knight Riders are a testament to that.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at what type of role Kohli can be tasked to undertake in the T20 World Cup in June.

Kohli in T20 World Cups

The former India skipper has been a true match-winner for India since his international debut. In T20 World Cups, he has scored 1,141 runs in 25 innings at an outstanding average of 81.50 with a strike rate over 130.

Apart from his astonishing numbers, he was named the Player of the Tournament consecutively in the 2014 and 2016 editions of the T20 World Cups.

His match-winning knocks in crucial outings – 72* vs South Africa (2014), 82* vs Australia (2016), and the iconic 82* vs Pakistan (2022) – are unmatched and remains special for Indian fans. Interestingly, all these knocks came with Kohli holding up one end, while wickets fell at the other.

What do the pitches in the West Indies offer?
The change in soil composition and moisture levels has affected the pace and bounce of the pitches in the West Indies. These days, the venues in the Caribbean tend to be slow tracks which are quite similar to the ones in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and a few other venues in the subcontinent.

Kohli has been ruthless in slow pitches where the ball doesn’t get pace from the pitch which makes him a dangerman to any side.

Kohli’s T20I record in West Indies

Innings played: 3

Runs scored 112
Average: 37.33
Strike rate: 141.77

His T20I numbers in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh are also exceptional, where he averages 55.83 and 94.40, respectively.

Does “Anchor” Kohli fit into India’s T20 schemes?

Overall, Kohli has scored 4,037 runs in 117 matches at an average of 51.75 and he is India’s highest run-scorer in the format. He has smashed 37 fifties along with a jaw-dropping 122* against Afghanistan in Asia Cup 2022. His strike rate of 138.15 may have room for improvement, but he’s already shown that he can go hard at bowlers from the start should he deem it necessary.

In 2023, India played 20 T20Is apart from the three Asian Games matches in China. Kohli didn’t feature in any of them and batters like Suryakumar Yadav, Tilak Varma, and Shreyas Iyer were given the nod over him.

After a long spell on the sidelines following the T20 WC 2022, Kohli played his first T20 international match in February 2024 against Afghanistan. He scored only 29 runs in the two-match series but at a strike rate of 170.58.

That said, one must also note that Kohli’s recent 67-ball century against Rajasthan Royals in IPL 2024 was the slowest ton in the league’s history.

Considering that the T20 dynamics have changed drastically over the years, batters have become more aggressive from the outset these days. IPL 2024, in fact, has witnessed two record-breaking team scores this year – SRH’s 277 vs MI and KKR’s 272 vs DC.

Having said that, since the pitches in West Indies might not make it possible for many high-scoring games to take place, Kohli’s presence in India’s squad for the upcoming T20 World Cup is a no-brainer choice. His presence in the middle order as an anchor will provide balance alongside the swashbuckling and aggressive styles of Suryakumar Yadav, Rinku Singh, Rohit Sharma, and Shivam Dube.

India has given the world many great cricketers but Virat Kohli finds himself in a league of his own in the modern era. With opening batting candidates like Rohit Sharma, Yashasvi Jaiswal, and Shubman Gill all in the fray for a T20 World Cup spot, making Kohli the anchor of the team makes perfect sense given his ability to play according to match situations as well as his extensive experience in the high stakes pressure situations which are synonymous with ICC events.

Topics mentioned in this article

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Do India Really Need Virat Kohli For T20 World Cup 2024? Here’s An Answer

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