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T20 World Cup 2024: Top-order dilemma for Team India - To open with Virat Kohli or Not?

Should Virat Kohli open in the upcoming T20 World Cup? With Kohli's impressive IPL form and the tactical implications of opening with him, the decision presents distinct scenarios and challenges for the Indian team.

T20 World Cup 2024: Top-order dilemma for Team India - To open with Virat Kohli or Not? osf
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First Published Jun 19, 2024, 4:30 PM IST

To open with Kohli or not: this is a question that India's brains trust will have to answer for a third World Cup running. For it presents two very distinct scenarios. Rohit Sharma talking about the idea of using Virat Kohli as an opener ahead of the last T20 World Cup in Australia. Hark back to March 20, 2021, when India's two most experienced cricketers opened together for the only time in a T20I and added 94 in 9 overs in a total of 224 batting first. Kohli, the captain then, was enthusiastic about the prospect of opening with Rohit in the World Cup to follow. As it turned out, KL Rahul opened with Rohit in each of the last two World Cups with Kohli following them at No.3.

"It's always nice to have options available to you. It is very important when you go in a tournament like a World Cup. You want the flexibility. We only talk about it, but this is actually what it means."

A: Opening with Rohit-Kohli

Potential Top-6: Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Shivam Dube/Sanju Samson, Rishabh Pant, Hardik Pandya...

Kohli, the T20 batter, has been at his best opening the batting in recent seasons of the IPL, making good use of the fielding restrictions. In the ongoing season, he's already hit 243 runs at a strike-rate of 154.43. Criticism of his T20 batting, which he lashed out against recently, has centred around his ability against spin when the field spreads out.

However, a Rohit-Kohli opening combination also brings a negative match-up against left-arm pace and left-arm spin. Opposition teams are usually equipped to use this pairing in the PowerPlay straight from the first round of games: Imad Wasim - Shaheen Afridi, George Dockrell - Josh Little, Nosthush Kenjige - Saurabh Netravalkar. Interestingly, Suryakumar Yadav, the No.1 T20 batter, too doesn't have the best returns against left-arm spin. India could still play Sanju Samson, a decoy and a dynamic right-hander with excellent numbers against pace and left-arm spin at No.3. This will force a toss-up to choose between the serial six-hitter Shivam Dube and Rishabh Pant and leave India with a solitary left-hander in the top-six.

B: Opening with Yashasvi Jaiswal

Potential Top-6: Rohit Sharma, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Rishabh Pant, Hardik Pandya...

Using Jaiswal as the opener solves the match-up option at the top but may force India to use Kohli sub-optimally at No.3, in the post-PowerPlay period. Such a decision will leave them having to sacrifice Dube for Pant, unless they're willing to make an unlikely and unpopular choice of leaving Kohli out for Samson.

Either way, India will have a slightly different make up of their top-order to the ones that took the field in the last two T20 World Cups but finding the 

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