Star Indian batter Virat Kohli would be desperate to come out of his prolonged lean spell when he makes his T20 return after five months with the second game against England, Saturday in Birmingham. Kohli, who last played a T20 international in February, has only appeared in two games since India’s disappointing campaign in the T20 World Cup in October-November when he captained the national team. The only T20 cricket he played since then was in the IPL, but he was far from his best there too.
Kohli and other seniors who were given frequent breaks as part of the team’s rest and rotation policy allowed players like Deepak Hooda to evade, who had a hard time dropping Saturday after the performances he conceived.
Hooda struck at Kohli’s position and made a big impression, also showing some foreboding form in the series opener against England, scoring a 17-ball 33.
If India decides to keep Hooda, Kohli can open with skipper Rohit Sharma at the expense of Ishan Kishan, who has also been consistently at the top.
Opening position is something Kohli is quite well known for and his last half century in T20 Internationals also came at the top.
With Kohli expected to take another break before the five T20s against the West Indies, the two games against England will become more important as far as his future in the T20 line-up is concerned.
Kohli has ‘been there and done that’, but with the younger couple playing intrepid cricket, he will have to return at his best.
The first game against England saw Rohit’s return after a COVID-induced hiatus and the team put on a perfect game. The batters showed the uninhibited approach that has become essential in the shortest format, while the pacers exploited the conditions brilliantly.
The conservative style of play that let them down during the World Cup clearly showed the Indian batters that their approach would go into the future. The power play yielded 66 runs and even after the fall of wickets the aim was to go hard from ball one.
However, the team can improve on its finishing skills, an area it lacked on Thursday night.
In addition to Kohli, Rishabh Pant, Jasprit Bumrah, Ravindra Jadeja and Shreyas Iyer have also joined the T20 squad after a break after the fifth test here.
It appeared that India was one batter short in the series opener, although they finished with 198. Jadeja is a similar replacement for Axar Patel and his addition also strengthens the batting unit.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar was hugely impressive with the new ball and Bumrah is expected to join him. Arshdeep Singh made a successful debut, but as he is out of the roster for the next two games, Umran Malik may have more opportunities. Hardik Pandya had a game to remember with both ball and ball and his presence is certainly a big boost for the squad in a World Cup year.
Rohit will also want to see a marked improvement in the team’s fieldwork, especially when catching after a regular show on Thursday.
England, which were blown away by the Southampton visitors, will back themselves to make a strong comeback.
They rely heavily on skipper Jos Buttler who is eager to make up for it after his first bald duck.
The powerful batters, including Liam Livingstone and Jason Roy, failed in the first game, but trust that they will perform well in a game you need to win.
india: Rohit Sharma (Captain), Ishan Kishan, Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Deepak Hooda, Shreyas Iyer, Dinesh Karthik, Rishabh Pant (week), Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Yuzvendra Chahal, Axar Patel, Ravi Bishnoi, Jasprit Bumrah, Kumar, Bmarhuvneshwar, Avesh Khan, Harshal Patel, Umran Malik.
England: Jos Buttler (Captain), Moeen Ali, Harry Brook, Sam Curran, Richard Gleeson, Chris Jordan, Liam Livingstone, Dawid Malan, Tymal Mills, Matthew Parkinson, Jason Roy, Phil Salt, Reece Topley and David Willey.
Match starts at 7pm.