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regular-article-logo Wednesday, 22 May 2024

India vs Afghanistan: Time for Virat Kohli to pad up and show T20 worth in Indore

Like captain Rohit Sharma, Kohli’s return to T20Is was also scheduled in Thursday’s series opener in Mohali, which he missed due to personal reasons

Our Bureau Calcutta Published 14.01.24, 06:19 AM
Virat Kohli, who did not play the first match due to personal reasons, at practice on the eve of the second T20I against Afghanistan in Indore on Saturday.

Virat Kohli, who did not play the first match due to personal reasons, at practice on the eve of the second T20I against Afghanistan in Indore on Saturday. PTI picture

All eyes would be on Virat Kohli as he’s set to make his T20I comeback after more than a year when India face Afghanistan in the second and penultimate clash of the series in Indore on Sunday.

Like captain Rohit Sharma, Kohli’s return to T20Is was also scheduled in Thursday’s series opener in Mohali, which he missed due to personal reasons.

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Sunday’s game, however, is set to be the first T20I in which Rohit and Kohli will appear together for India since the 2022 T20 World Cup semi-final loss against England in Adelaide. No wonder both of them would like to make a meaningful contribution in what is also India’s penultimate T20I ahead of the World Cup this June in the Caribbean and the United States.

Rohit’s form in T20 cricket seems to have wavered lately while a run-out dismissal
for nought in his comeback game following a miscommunication with Shubman
Gill further stretched his list of low scores in the format. For sure the skipper, like Kohli, would like to score big in these two T20Is and make a statement before heading into the IPL, which appears to be Team India cricketers’ actual preparation going into the T20 Cup.

To talk about Kohli, where does he bat and who does he replace? Could he open alongside Rohit? If Yashasvi Jaiswal — who too missed the first T20I due to a sore groin — returns, he will most likely come in place of Gill. Kohli then can bat at No.3, which has predominantly been his position in limited-overs cricket.

But then, with Kohli’s return, one of the players from the previous game will have to sit out. The likes of all-rounder Shivam Dube, keeper-batter Jitesh Sharma and Tilak Varma impressed with the bat, so the axe could then fall on off-spinner Washington Sundar, who was expensive along with leg-spinner Ravi Bishnoi in the opening game. India may also bring in Kuldeep Yadav for Bishnoi.

T20 Cup ‘in mind’

Dube, who starred with an unbeaten 60 in Mohali to help India take the lead in the three-match series, is certainly eyeing a berth in the T20 World Cup squad. He’s currently focusing on one game at a time though.

“Anyone who plays for the country wants to feature in the World Cup. But it’s far away now. My process is taking it one game at a time,” Dube said.

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