2022 T20I World Cup India: Who Will Open With Rohit Sharma? Will Kohli Make India's Best Playing Xi?


The 2022 T20I World Cup is coming. India's past 2-1 victory over world champions England has boosted their morale. The series win, which comes against an in-form and arguably the best white-ball side in the world, will definitely boost skipper Rohit Sharma and coach Rahul Dravid's confidence after a disappointing loss in the one-off Test.

Preparations for 2022 T20I World Cup India

India managed to win relatively comprehensively, unlike how the predictions went before the series. On a good batting surface at the Ageas Bowl, the Indian batsmen continued their aggressive approach and put up close to 200, while the bowlers, particularly Hardik Pandya, hit the deck hard to secure the win.

In the 2nd T20I, a collective bowling performance restricted England, while the batters managed to put up a par-score. The last T20I saw one of the best batting displays in T20 cricket by Surya Kumar Yadav, although in vain, which brought India within touching distance.

As is the case when two heavyweights of the game clash, there are a lot of subplots that have developed which are debatable. As India prepares to right the wrongs of the last T20 World Cup in UAE, we look at some of the talking points in the Indian XI.

Who Will Open With Rohit Sharma At The 2022 T20I World Cup?

At the moment, KL Rahul is a straight-forward option for India. But the LSG skipper's last T20I cap for India came in November last year against New Zealand and has suffered a host of injuries, which have kept him out of the side. Since then, Ishan Kishan has established himself as a key player alongside Rohit. India are spoilt for choices when it comes to the top-order, with Sanju Samson and Ruturaj Gaikwad already making a mark.

A surprising, but possibly fruitful, call was made by the Indian management during the 2nd T20 against England, which saw Rishabh Pant walk onto the field alongside Rohit Sharma to open the innings for India. Pant played an enterprising innings of 26 off 15 balls that included some of his trademark shots like the whip over mid-wicket.

So, does the management see him as a long-term option at the top of the order in T20 cricket, while playing him in the middle-order in the other two formats? The stats say that he strikes at 164.3 at the top with a hundred and three fifties, while his strike-rate in the middle-order falls to 123.

The move makes a lot of sense considering Pant's struggles in the middle-order in T20 internationals and in the recent home series against South Africa. His ability to play around with the field can be better utilized at the top in the powerplay, something that has served him well in test cricket. He doesn't need to look far for inspiration either as the opposition skipper Jos Buttler plays the same role for England.

Pant is unlikely to dislodge Rahul as the first-team opener and is better off competing for a place in the middle-order for now.

Will Kohli Be India's Best Playing XI At T20I World Cup 2022?

This question perhaps would have been unthinkable two years ago when the pandemic hit but is proving to be a genuine debate in the current scenario. Kohli is struggling big time and even the good batting conditions that T20 cricket offers isn't helping him end the rut.

Perhaps the reason for the arisal of this debate is India's new-found batting approach under skipper Rohit Sharma. India have adopted an all-out batting approach in which batsmen go hard at the bowlers from ball one. The new style meant that Kohli has been left as the odd one out of the batting group, which is otherwise packed with powerful hitters.

Under Kohli, India used to employ a conservative mindset in the powerplay before consolidating the innings in the middle overs and going hard at the death. This style worked wonders for Kohli as a batsman, who averaged over 55 during 2016-19.

But while India have moved on from this approach, it seems like Kohli hasn't as he is still striking at 115 in the middle overs this year. Kohli's still striking at 176 at the death since 2020 but the fact is India don't need him to bat through the innings as they have designated finishers in Dinesh Karthik and Hardik Pandya.

His hoick against Gleeson just three balls into his innings and his 11 off 6 balls in the 3rd T20I signalled a change in batting style but ultimately resulted in failure. Deepak Hooda's brilliant performances from No.3 have put even more pressure on Kohli, who now has to alter his batting style to stay in the side.

Surya Kumar Ranks 4th For India In T20I World Cup

After his whirlwind 117 runs off 55 deliveries in the 3rd T20I against England, Michael Vaughan told Cricbuzz that Surya Kumar Yadav is a certainty for India in the T20 World Cup in Australia. Although in vain, Suryakumar played one of the most ridiculous and breathtaking innings in the history of T20 cricket.

Coming in at 13/2, the right-hander quickly went about his business even though wickets were tumbling at the other end. He raced to a half-century in 32 balls and was even more aggressive there after. He took just 10 balls to go from 65 to 100 and complete a 48-ball century.

He became India's 5th centurion in the shortest format and scored the 2nd highest tally in a T20 innings for India. With this innings, he once again proved to the management that he is the only 360 degree player that India have got, evidenced by the 51-49 split between his runs on the off-side and the leg-side. Rohit Sharma and Jos Buttler heralded his century as 'one of the best 100's in T20 cricket'. At the moment, he is looking like a show-in at No.4 for India at the T20 World Cup.

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