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Virat Kohli should open in T20 World Cup: Sourav Ganguly

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Virat Kohli Sourav Ganguly

Virat Kohli (L); Sourav Ganguly (R)

Bengaluru: Former Indian captain Sourav Ganguly on Friday said the Indian team management should make Virat Kohli open in next month’s T20 World Cup to exploit the star batter’s rich vein of form in the ongoing Indian Premier League.

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Kohli is the current Orange Cap holder in this IPL with 634 runs from 12 matches, averaging 70.44 and at an impressive strike-rate of 153.51, which is significantly higher than his career rate of 134.31.

“Virat is playing exceptionally well. The way Kohli batted last night – 90 in quick time, you need to use him as opener in T20 World Cup. He should open, evidenced by his last few IPL innings which have been outstanding,” Ganguly told PTI here on the sidelines of a promotional event.

Ganguly said India have picked a balanced squad for the T20 World Cup which has the wherewithal to land the trophy after a gap of 17 years.

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India’s lone triumph in the T20 World Cup came in 2007, the inaugural edition held in South Africa.

“This is an excellent squad. I think they have picked the best possible squad. Apart from batting depth, bowling looks excellent.

“Bumrah is the best fast bowler in the world at the moment. We have experience in Kuldeep, Axar, Siraj. It’s an ideal combination we have this time,” said Ganguly.

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This edition of the IPL has seen teams breaching the 250-run mark quite effortlessly, and the 51-year-old said the trend would continue in the future as well.

“This is going to be the trend in the years to come. T20 cricket has become a power-oriented game and that’s what it is going to be.

“I was reading Sanju Samson’s comments the other day, where he said there’s no time to settle down in modern T20s. You just have to hit, and that’s the way it is going to be,” said Ganguly.

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The Kolkatan, himself no stranger to hitting some monster sixes during his playing days, identified the evolved mindset of batters and Impact Player rule as the main reasons behind such mammoth totals in the IPL.

"Now, in IPL we are seeing scores like 240, 250 regularly. The main reasons are good batting wickets and the grounds are also not big in India. In the last game between Delhi Capitals and Rajasthan (Royals), 26 sixes were hit in a 40-over game, which is almost one six every over.

“That’s how this game has gone and that’s how the players have started approaching the game. The Impact Player rule, where every team has the possibility of adding another batsman, has also added another dimension to it,” he detailed.

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Ganguly said the bowlers need to upskill themselves to counter the ruthless march of batters in T20s, and cited the example of pacer Jasprit Bumrah.

Amidst the general ruins of bowlers, Bumrah stood tall, grabbing 18 wickets from 12 matches and his economy rate of 6.20 is the best among regular bowlers.

“The bowlers need to be really more skillful, we have some skillful bowlers around, to be more successful. Look at Bumrah, Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav, all of them bowl superbly in all formats of the game and in the IPL.

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“I don’t believe in formats. I believe in skills. These are exemplary players who will thrive in all formats,” he noted.

Does he think the power-hitting will take the elegance and artistry away, making cricket robotic? “Not at all. Demands of different formats are different. Everything evolves, sports is not an exception. You will still see elegance and artistry in Test cricket. Test matches will always be Test matches.

“Look, quality players will be successful in all formats of the game. Look at Virat Kohli…the best players will adjust to all formats,” he added.

Recently, Dinesh Karthik had expressed his desire to return to the Indian side in the context of the T20 World Cup, but Ganguly said the selectors made the right choice by selecting Rishabh Pant and Sanju Samson as wicketkeeper batters.

“Dinesh played well but there are better players than Dinesh. I don’t think you can leave Sanju or Rishabh out. There are better players than Dinesh Karthik at the moment,” said Ganguly.

Ganguly also refrained from commenting on the “public reprimand” given to Lucknow Super Giants skipper KL Rahul by the team owner Sanjeev Goenka.

“It is not fair for me to make a comment based on a TV grab. I don’t know what Sanjeev had spoken to Rahul. So, I leave it at that,” he said.

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