Asia Cup 2022, IND vs AFG: 'Virat Kohli scoring runs is a huge bonus for us' - KL Rahul
India bludgeoned past Afghanistan by 101 runs in its final Super 4 tie of the Asia Cup 2022 in Dubai on Thursday. Virat Kohli's unbeaten knock of 122 was the highlight, while vice-captain KL Rahul admitted it was a huge positive for the side.
Indian vice-captain KL Rahul was somewhat taken aback when asked if former Indian skipper and top-order batter Virat Kohli should continue to open the batting, heading into the ICC T20 World Cup (T20WC) alongside skipper Rohit Sharma. Kohli hit his maiden Twenty20 International (T20I) century during the 2022 Asia Cup Super 4 game against Afghanistan at the Dubai International Stadium on Thursday, which was also his first international ton in nearly three years. With Rohit opting out of the inconsequential contest, Kohli opened the innings with Rahul. The question was asked because if Kohli is promoted as an opener, it would mean Rahul would have to sit out, while his batting of late has already been dicey of late.
"Toh kya mai khud baith jaun? [So, do I sit out?]," a bewildered Rahul counter-questioned, who did not seem amused. The Indian deputy captain firmly accepts that Kohli is not conditional on the opening slot to get top scores. "You get confidence if you play two-three innings. Happy that he could play that way. You all know Virat Kohli. You have been watching him for so many years. It is not like he will only score centuries if he opens the batting. If he bats at No.3, he can then also score centuries. It is all about roles and what role a certain player has," he added.
However, one cannot ignore how the side gets a boost when its best batter is on the scoring sheet. "Virat scoring runs is a massive bonus for the team, and I know he is delighted with how he played against Afghanistan. He has been working on his game, and that worked beautifully today. As a team, it is important for every player to get time out in the middle," Rahul stated.
There had been no change in Kohli's work ethic or mindset for Rahul, even during a no-show period over the last three years. "The celebration by Virat was more of relief. His philosophy, attitude, and work ethic have changed in the previous two-three years. There has been no difference in how he prepares for the game," reckoned Rahul.
"He [Kohli] has always had that desire. We are also very obsessed with those three digits, and we think that if someone scores hundreds, then only he is in form. His contributions have been phenomenal in the last two-three years," said Rahul. The hallmark of Kohli is that he strives for perfection in his pursuit of excellence, feels Rahul.
"As a player, you always want to be perfect or challenge yourself towards excellence. He has always been that player. Even during this phase, he has remained in the moment and worked on his game. That has been a learning for our entire group," Rahul articulated. While Kohli was pleasantly surprised that his much-awaited 71st 100 came in the shortest format, Rahul wasn't startled.
"In that dressing room, none of us is surprised to see what he has done today. I am sure this will give him even more confidence, he will cherish this hundred, and this will build great confidence around the group as well," concluded Rahul.
(With inputs from PTI)