Virat and Rohit should open for India in T20 World Cup: Sourav Ganguly

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Virat and Rohit should open for India in T20 World Cup: Sourav Ganguly
New Delhi: Sourav Ganguly, the former India skipper currently serving as director of cricket at Delhi Capitals, thinks that captain Rohit Sharma and talismanic batter Virat Kohli should open the batting in the Men’s T20 World Cup, to be held from June 1 in West Indies and USA.

Rohit had been declared as India’s captain for the mega event by BCCI Secretary Jay Shah at Rajkot in February, but who opens the batting alongside him is the question. Kohli is currently the leading run-getter in IPL 2024, amassing 379 runs in eight innings as an opener for the Royal Challengers Bengaluru.

The other opening contender is young left-handed batter Yashasvi Jaiswal, who’s been going through a lean patch for Rajasthan Royals in the competition. Jaiswal, though, has smashed a half-century against Mumbai Indians in the ongoing IPL 2024 match at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur.

“Both will and should go to the West Indies. If you ask me and it’s just my personal opinion and I’m not saying that the selectors should do it, because at the end of the day, it’s their call, but Rohit and Virat should open.”

“Virat Kohli has got the capability of getting a 40-ball 100 also. As I said at the start, India, with the talent they have, just need to go and hit. The mindset should be to hit and then we’ll see what happens after 5-6 overs. But I don’t think Yashasvi’s name has dropped too far down the ladder. He’s a special player,” said Ganguly in a select media interaction organised by the franchise on Monday.

Kohli scored a 67-ball century against Rajasthan Royals but received flak for it because of his low strike-rate in a tournament where an attacking Travis Head also smashed a ton, but in 39 balls. Head’s overall strike-rate of 216 in the tournament is way more than Kohli, whose strike-rate is at 150.39 currently.

“For India, the most important thing in T20 cricket and I said this to Rahul (Dravid) in Australia (after the 2022 T20 World Cup) also. ‘Just play without fear.’ You can always control the innings if you lose wickets, but just go and hit. It’s not a drastic change. They have the talent to do that change.”

“We saw how Rohit batted at the 50-overs World Cup. He just came and hit from ball one and we were able to put so much pressure on the opposition in the first seven-eight overs. It gave breathing space for the lower order. I think Virat and Rohit should do the same. They’re great players,” added Ganguly, the former BCCI President, on how India can go for a mindset change in T20Is after playing timid cricket in the last two World Cups.

He also wished for Lucknow Super Giants captain and wicketkeeper-batter K.L Rahul to be a fearless batter in T20s, just like how he smashed a strokeful 82 against Chennai Super Kings at the Ekana Cricket Stadium last week.

“I think it depends on what the captain and the coach instruct him to do in the middle. The other day I saw him play an innings against Chennai (Super Kings), which Lucknow (Super Giants) won. I thought he was exceptional. He played well at the top of the order and did exactly what was required to do.”

“As I said, it’s about playing freely and playing without fear, it’s a must in T20 cricket. I hope Rahul finds a method of playing T20 cricket, because players like Virat, Rohit, Rishabh, Rahul, Surya (Suryakumar Yadav), Hardik, Shivam Dube – there an exceptional six-hitting ability, it’s enormous for all of them and I think that’s the way they should play, just hit.”

With many contenders for various slots in India’s T20 World Cup squad, Ganguly feels the selection for Men’s T20 World Cup shouldn’t be on the basis of just performances in one IPL season.

“You have to look at every performance. A good team is a balance of experience and youth. Experienced players in India are tremendous and I’m not saying only because of the number of games they have played but it’s the performances they’ve put over a period of time. It’s unbelievable.”

“I’m sure the selectors are mature enough to see performances over a period of time. Not just one IPL, but two, three, four IPL seasons. Someone like Shivam Dube, did it last year also. He was given a chance for India and whacked it there also. So, they’ve (players like him) done it over a period of time.”

Ganguly signed off by quashing suggestions on more young people to be included in the national T20 team in place of experienced campaigners. “There is nothing about old and young; it’s about being and how good you are, which is important to me. How is Jimmy Anderson playing Test cricket? He’s a fast bowler at 41, playing Test cricket and bowling 30-30 overs in an innings in a test match.”

“So, there’s no hard and fast rule for anything. The only hard and fast rule is talent, ability and performance. You look at someone like MS Dhoni, he bats for two overs and hits four sixes. I would actually want him to bat more but let’s see how good he is.”

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