Suryakumar Yadav at No 3: So what about Virat Kohli?

India’s flamboyant batter Suryakumar Yadav put on a stellar show as he guided team India to a five-wicket win in their first T20I match against New Zealand. This was SKY’s third fifty-plus score in his T20I career of nine games for India.

Suryakumar walked in to bat at number 3 and added a 59-run stand with the new skipper Rohit Sharma to anchor team India’s run chase, scoring  62 off 40 balls. Though, both the stylish cricketers played crucial knocks but they failed to take their team to a win. 10 runs were required in the final over and it was Rishabh Pant who scored the winning runs for team India in the last over thriller.

After the match, during the post-match conference, Suryakumar Yadav was asked about how he has settled his role by batting at number 3 for India. Responding to the question, SKY hailed the former T20I skipper Virat Kohli who allowed him to bat at number 3 for India in the recently-concluded T20i World Cup 2021 encounter against Namibia. He appreciated his gesture towards him and said:

“I still remember when I made my batting debut, he was the one who sacrificed his position and let me go at No. 3 when I played against England and he batted at 4. It was the same thing. He asked whether I want to go in so that I get some World Cup game time. It was really nice of him and I enjoyed coming back not out in that game.”

SKY went on to score an unbeaten 25 off 19 against Namibia in the T20I World Cup clash as India chased down the target by 9 wickets with 28 balls remaining.

Further, talking about his batting position, SKY said he is happy to bat anywhere the team required him to. He said:

“It’s not like I want to bat at any specific position. I am happy to bat anywhere. I have been batting at the No. 3 position for my franchise for the last three years so it was nothing different for me. I just go out and express myself, the way I do in the nets. I have followed the same process for the last 2-3 years. I don’t try and do anything different. I just want to go out and enjoy myself.”

A look at Virat Kohli

It is true that Kohli wasn’t in the best of form in the T20 World Cup. His strike rates over the last two IPLs stood around 120, and this season he averaged merely 28.92. But his recent T20I form was excellent, and he has regularly been a player to raise his game for India. In the England T20I series earlier this year, he made three unbeaten scores above 70, whit his strike-rate 147.13. In the series before that, against Australia, he made a 61-ball 85 and a 24-ball 40.

But there are some riders to these successful outings. Firstly, some of the attacks against whom he scored these runs weren’t the strongest. Secondly, some of these runs came when Kohli came in early or chose to open the batting. Thus he was able to start off slow, and then compensate in the later overs. This is a successful template in the T20 format, and there’s nothing wrong with what Kohli did here.

At the same time, Kohli is only 33. Despite his recent dip, he is still a valuable player for the India team. He has shown that when he gets set in, he can be a dangerous prospect. Plus, he’s Virat Kohli. If he shows the form in subsequent internationals and the IPL, he remains a must-pick.

This is an option that might work quite well for India, given they have the likes of Rishabh Pant, Suryakumar Yadav, and Ishan Kishan, who can finish the innings well or kick on after a strong start. Kohli must not be the main man, but a player who plays a role. If there is clarity around his role, even Kohli can play with freedom and flourish.

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