With every passing inning by Virat Kohli, it is becoming increasingly probable that the 33-year-old former India captain could be excluded from the squad for the T20 World Cup, slated for October-November in Australia.
And despite the backing given to Kohli by new skipper Rohit Sharma and head coach Rahul Dravid, it is only so far they can carry him in the squad if he doesn’t perform. More so, with other batters making strong cases for a middle-order spot.
The focus on Kohli’s position in the T20 team is because of his disappointing performance recently: he endure his worst IPL season since 2010 – in the IPL 2022, he averaged only 22 at a dismal strike rate of 115; many other middle-order options have shown more intent and aggressiveness than Kohli.
Then a horrific England tour – where he couldn’t score more than 20 in any of the 6 innings he batted in – has compounded problems for the batting great.
Here are 3 strong alternatives India may opt for instead of Virat Kohli for the T20 World Cup:
Having made his T20I debut only in February and played only 6 T20Is so far, Deepak Hooda, though, has perhaps pushed himself above in the pecking order.
After a terrific IPL 2022 season with the Lucknow Super Giants – average of 32 and strike rate of 136 along with four fifties while showing his versatility by batting at different positions – Hooda grabbed his opportunity against Ireland by smashing a T20I century, and followed it up with a quickfire knock of 33 runs off 17 balls against England.
Hooda also offers a handy part-time off-spin option; in case India opts to go with the leg-spin of Chahal and left-arm orthodox of Jadeja in their eleven – then Hooda’s off-spin offered a good variation to have.
Sanju Samson is finally seeming to grow into the mature cricketer at the international level that many had been championing for years. Last month, with his spot on the line, Samson clattered his maiden T20I fifty -77 runs off 42 balls vs Ireland; although he was then dropped from the T20I side, Samson further showed his worth with his first ODI fifty (54 off 51) in India’s successful run-chase of 312 vs West Indies.
This was after he had led Rajasthan Royals to the IPL 2022 final – the batsman himself showing a great deal of intent – which is the top priority in a T20 batsman – by scoring his 458 runs at a strike rate of 146.
India captain Rohit Sharma himself had earlier hailed Samson’s batting qualities to be useful in Australian conditions.
Everybody including Shreyas Iyer himself knows that he has limitations while facing fast short balls. But that hasn’t deterred the batsman from playing his attacking shots. In fact, after being dismissed on multiple times to short stuff on the England tour, Iyer bounced back with two consecutive match-winning half-centuries in the ODIs vs West Indies.
In 42 T20Is, Shreyas averages 34 with a strike rate of 138 with 6 fifties- such records don’t come by when a batsman is handicapped. It means that even though Iyer has shortcomings against a particular type of delivery – which he is expected to rectify in order to have a long career – the 27-year-old has plenty of other scoring options.
And there are not many other batsmen better at taking down spinners, in any phase of the game, than Iyer; on the other hand, Virat Kohli gets effectively hamstrung to spinners outside the powerplay.