Virat Kohli rues Rohit Sharma’s absence after opening gambit fails vs England

With Rohit Sharma recovering after thigh surgery, India’s opening combination has looked shaky in the limited-overs series versus England so far.

cricket Updated: Jan 26, 2017 23:37 IST
Sharad Deep
Sharad Deep
Hindustan Times
Virat Kohli,Rohit Sharma,Indian cricket team
Virat Kohli, India captain, opened for the hosts against England in the 1st T20I in Kanpur.(REUTERS)

Virat Kohli defended his decision to open the batting after the loss to England in the first Twenty20 International on Thursday, but said the team missed the injured Rohit Sharma.

Virat Kohli scored 29 in India’s modest total after deciding to partner KL Rahul in his debut as T20 skipper as he felt it would be too much to push a rookie into that crucial slot. Teenager Rishabh Pant and top-order batsman Mandeep Singh are the options.

Asked whether India would have done chasing a target, the master of chases said it would not have mattered because India’s score of 147/7 was below par on a flat Green Park pitch.

Virat Kohli then said he had to open for the team’s sake.

“I open in the IPL… So, I have an idea and that is why I went in to open. I did not go there to look special. Everyone anyway was expecting that I would (open) because it gives more balance to the team.

“You can have an extra batsman in the middle-order, a player like Suresh Raina gets more dangerous at No 3, so when Rohit is not around as opener, I can anytime step up because it provides more balance.”

Rohit suffered a thigh injury during the ODI series against New Zealand and underwent surgery in England.

Virat Kohli hinted he may continue to open in this series. “It depends. If Rohit was in the side, there is no question he would be opening with Rahul. I have no urge to open, I play at three, I can play anywhere according to what the management thinks… You can’t ask someone to open if he has not done it in the past. It would be unfair on him.”

However, Rahul’s form slump in limited-overs cricket has brought the team under early pressure against England. He fell for 8, 5 and 11 in the ODIs and was dismissed for eight on Thursday.

“It is one area we need to work on. All teams want their openers to fire. But you also need to understand that it is difficult to get openers of international standards. That is why you have to back the openers you have for some time. We will continue to back them because they have performed in the past.”

Mishra’s wait continues

Seasoned leg-spinner Amit Mishra, who took five wickets in the final ODI win over New Zealand in Visakhapatnam, continued to sit out. “He has done well and that is why he is in the side…

In the 2014 World T20 he did really well, it was unfortunate he was not part of the squad in 2016. He is a guy with variation and is any day useful on a bare wicket.”

India fall to England pace

India batsmen were outwitted by the variations of England pacers, with Tymal Mills, Chris Jordan, Ben Stokes and Liam Plunkett all taking a wicket as well.

Kohli said: “Their pacers bowled at good lengths and showed character. Even in death they hit some really nice areas. Tymal Mills was good with the slower bouncers. You could tell that they are playing more freely, which was evident in their body language. There were some loose shots from us as well, which led to us being 30-35 runs short.”

England’s captaincy transformation

After Test skipper Alastair Cook was heavily criticised for his defensive captaincy following the 4-0 defeat, England have found a more dynamic limited-overs skipper in Eoin Morgan.

After hitting a century in the second ODI to almost take England home and then contributing 43 in the consolation win in Kolkata, Morgan again led from the front, scoring a match-winning 51 on Thursday.

Virat Kohli also pointed out to Morgan’s IPL experience.

“You could see the England team is more expressive in the shorter formats. Not thinking of the outcome too much. You have to give credit where it is due. They are pulling off good shots. We have tried to make them play against spin but they have come out on top. I am wary of his ability (Morgan), he is a world-class player.”

First Published: Jan 26, 2017 23:37 IST