How Rahul Dravid, Rohit Sharma decided on Virat Kohli, Rishabh Pant's new batting role for T20 World Cup | Crickit
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How Rahul Dravid, Rohit Sharma decided on Virat Kohli, Rishabh Pant's new batting role for T20 World Cup

Jun 17, 2024 08:29 AM IST

Although Virat Kohli incurred a forgettable start to the T20 World Cup, the Rishabh Pant strategy proved to be a masterstroke from Team India.

Even on the eve of India's T20 World Cup warm-up game earlier this month against Bangladesh, experts and veteran cricketers discussed the likely batting line-up for the ICC tournament. With the players fresh from the recently completed IPL season and in form, India was spoilt for choices with umpteen probabilities at disposal. But the Indian team management gave the first hint towards their likely playing XI in that practice game against Bangladesh before making it official in their World Cup opener on June 5 against Ireland.

Vikram Rathour opened up on India's batting plans for the T20 World Cup
Vikram Rathour opened up on India's batting plans for the T20 World Cup

In a bid to maximise their power-hitting options in the middle-order and accommodate more all-rounders, India opened with Virat Kohli, promoting him from his usual No. 3 spot in the line-up and in a rather surprising move, Rishabh Pant took the latter spot.

While Kohli did have experience playing as an opener in T20 cricket, having smashed 741 runs at that batting position in IPL 2024 to win the Orange Cap, Pant rarely batted in the top order for India. India did experiment with him as an opener in the build-up to the 2022 T20 World Cup, where he scored 71 runs only in five innings, but the last time he batted at No. 3 was way back in 2019.

Although, Kohli incurred a horrid start to the World Cup, managing just five runs in three innings, including a golden duck against the USA, the Pant strategy proved to be a masterstroke from head coach Rahul Dravid and captain Rohit Sharma as the wicketkeeper-batter scored 96 runs in three innings so far.

Speaking on Star Sports in conversation with former cricketers Harbhajan Singh and Navjot Singh Sidhu, India batting coach Vikram Rathour opened up on how the management came up with the batting strategy. Rathour reckoned that while the decision on Kohli was purely based on his IPL performance, the call to promote Pant was to counter left-arm spin threat.

“Our batting group has great versatility. After discussing with everyone, we concluded that Virat's best batting position would be to open. He is great against fast bowlers and came out of an excellent IPL season. As a group, we wanted a left-hander at No. 3 because if an opposition side starts with a left-arm spinner, we would have an advantage, and in Rishabh Pant, we found a perfect player who could take up that role. He actually showed that in the last 2-3 matches,” he said.

India scripted an unbeaten run in the group stage, winning against Ireland, Pakistan and the USA to make the Super Eight stage of the T20 World Cup. The Men in Blue will next be in action on June 20 against Afghanistan in Barbados.

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