IPL: Keep an in-form Virat Kohli out of the T20 World Cup at your peril

The early Orange Cap winner says he still has game enough for this format

Virat Kohli after winning the Man of the Match award on 25 March 2024 (photo courtesy BCCI)
Virat Kohli after winning the Man of the Match award on 25 March 2024 (photo courtesy BCCI)

Gautam Bhattacharyya

Talk of the Indian team management mulling a composition without Virat Kohli for the T20 World Cup must have reached the former captain as well. On a dual-paced surface at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru on Monday, 25 March, the virtuoso got his hustle on and showed he still 'has it', with a match-winning 77 that helped the Royal Challengers Bengaluru register their first win of the IPL 2024.

It will be an irony of sorts if Kohli — projected as ‘the face’ of T20 cricket in World T20 in the USA & Caribbean and of the Olympic programme — is not a part of the Blue Tigers’ scheme of things in the Caribbean or the US.

A recent media report which created waves suggested that Ajit Agarkar, the chairman of selectors, had been given a mandate by BCCI strongman Jay Shah to convince Kohli to modify his game or stay out of the World Cup — and it seriously seems untenable at the moment.

‘’I know my name is often used to just promote the T20 game across the world when it comes to T20 cricket these days; but (I have) still got it, I guess,’’ Kohli said with a smirk after collecting the Man of the Match award.

Looking back, the four-wicket win over the Punjab Kings was not a convincing one on part of the Royal Challengers and all of Kohli’s hard work would have fallen flat if ‘DK’ had not come to the party in his finisher’s avatar. But the franchise will not be complaining.

Much as Kohli keeps saying that he is not too fussed about personal landmarks at this stage of his career, a significant one was scripted again on Monday when he became the first Indian — and the third batter overall — to register his 100th T20 score of 50-plus. In 378 appearances in T20s so far, Kohli has scored 12,092 runs at an average of 41.26 with eight centuries (with a highest score of 122 not-out).

What’s more, Kohli is India’s leading T20 run-getter and overall sixth, and given the kind of form that he has been in over the past year or year-and-a-half, it would be a travesty if he doesn’t travel to the mega event.

One argument doing the rounds is that the slow wickets expected there may not suit his natural style of batting; but on the contrary, one feels his maturity and craftiness at battling for the runs will come in handy there as well as on the untried wickets in the US.

The venue of Nassau County International Stadium in New York’s Long Island, scheduled to host the marquee India–Pakistan league game on 9 June 9, will offer an unknown quantity — and this is where Kohli’s experience may come in handy.

After being handed the Orange Cap, Kohli opened up on his form on Monday: ‘’[To the crowd] Don’t get overexcited, it’s just two games. I know what this (orange cap) means.

"It’s been going on for years. People talk a lot about playing the sport. At the end of the day, you don’t talk about the achievements, stats or numbers but the memories. It’s what Rahul Dravid says. The friendship, love, appreciation, and backing has been amazing and is what you’ll miss and never forget.’’

For Kohli, this IPL is the first competitive tournament he played since he took a two-month break for fatherhood — and it's certainly a great way to underscore he still hasn't blunted his edge.

Follow us on: Facebook, Twitter, Google News, Instagram 

Join our official telegram channel (@nationalherald) and stay updated with the latest headlines