T20 World Cup: Kohli Is World-Class In Any Conditions, Says Aussie Great

(MENAFN- Khaleej Times) Published: Wed 19 Jun 2024, 10:27 PM

Former Australian batter Matthew Hayden has backed star Indian batsman Virat Kohli to come good during the Super Eights stage of the ICC T20 World Cup in West Indies, saying that he is a world-class batter in any conditions.

India will be playing Afghanistan in their Super Eights game at Barbados on Thursday. India ended their group stage with three wins in three matches against Ireland, Pakistan and the USA in Group A, while their last game against Canada ended in a washout. Afghanistan ended the group stage in second place in Group C, with three wins and a loss to West Indies.

Virat, the top run-getter in T20 World Cup history, was expected to light up the tournament as he has done consistently for years. Rather, he has been off to an extremely poor run, with scores of 1 (against Ireland), 4 (against Pakistan), and 0 (against the USA). Two of Virat's dismissals came while the batter was taking an aggressive route with the bat, while his dismissal against the USA saw him poking at a ball landing outside off stump, something with which he has struggled often.

Virat arrived in the tournament after a stupendous Indian Premier League (2024) season for Royal Challengers Bengaluru (RCB), where he scored 741 runs in 15 innings at 61.75 and a strike rate of 154.69, with a century and five fifties and also won the Orange Cap. Virat registered his highest-ever strike rate in his IPL career and was exceptional against spinners, taking a more attacking approach against them.

However, this aggressive approach did not work for him on the tough surfaces of Nassau County International Stadium in New York, which was criticized for its bounce and poor play for batters. But in the West Indies, Virat will be raring to go and break his streak of poor scores with a big knock making use of his newer style. India will be playing their games in Barbados, Antigua and Saint Lucia.

"Kohli in any condition is a world-class batter," Hayden said on Star Sports Press Room as quoted by ESPNCricinfo.

"These [Caribbean] are venues where you have to construct an innings and think about the kind of realistic totals that are possible in these different venues," added Hayden.

"Outside of St Lucia, par scores are in the range of 160-170 and Virat, with all his experience, will be able to work out what to do, like hitting spin towards the windward side, depending on how significant it is," the former batter continued.

Hayden said that the conditions in the USA were extremely tough for the batters, which nobody liked. He also said that while people want to see their "champion players" play freely, it is not going to be the case and in this situation, Virat's experience counts.

Hayden also said that opening alongside skipper Rohit Sharma would be the best spot for Virat even though teams are utilising spin early in the powerplay against him.

"I said it during the IPL as well, if Kohli was going to be in the team, he needs to open. Virat at three, I don't think we will get the best out of him. You cannot just turn up and blast 250 on these wickets, you need thinking cricketers," said Hayden.

"You look back at David Warner's performance this World Cup - in Barbados on a sluggish wicket, he made 30-odd [39 in 16 balls vs England]. It was a really well-constructed thirty. It depends on what your benchmark is. Are you looking at 100s, 50s, strike rate?"

"The way Warner came out on a pretty [tough] wicket and blew the game away, that is what Kohli is going to be challenged with in the Caribbean. Just leave him alone. He will show you why the Indian selectors have had faith in him at that position," he concluded.

Hayden also cautioned Virat to maintain a fine strike rate.

"He needs to continue to have a great strike rate," Hayden said. "We have clearly seen a pattern emerge here at the World Cup where those six overs [powerplay], you have to be in front of the game. It is too hard to catch up. If you are looking at the back-half of the game, it is trouble. You must be clinical in the first ten."


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Khaleej Times

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