Too muck risk in Virat opening at T20 World Cup, he is most impactful at No 3: AB de Villiers

08:36 AM May 23, 2024 | PTI |

New Delhi: Virat Kohli has had roaring success as opener in the IPL including the current season but his good friend AB de Villiers reckons the Indian superstar is best suited to bat at number three in the upcoming T20 World Cup in the USA and Caribbean.


Kohli has amassed 708 runs for Royal Challengers Bangalore in the season thus far at a 150 plus strike rate, shutting the critics who questioned his intent against spinners in the middle overs earlier in the tournament.

Rohit Sharma and Yashasvi Jaiswal make for a potent right-left opening combination but to accommodate Suryakumar Yadav at number three, Kohli could be asked to open at the expense of Jaiswal in the ICC event beginning June 1.

However, De Villiers feels the former India captain opening is not a good idea.

“I feel he’s a number three batsman and that’s where he’s most impactful. He’s almost like the captain of the batting team everywhere he goes. He keeps the calmness and the composure within the batting unit,” the South African great told PTI in a select media interaction arranged by JioCinema on Wednesday.


“I know Virat himself really enjoys opening, which is great. You’ve got to respect that from a man who’s played the game for many years. He understands his game really well and he understands what he wants out of the game as well.”

“But if I was playing a TV game, Xbox, he would come in at number three in my team. I feel there’s too much risk in those first couple of overs to go and ask Virat to take the game on, to hit the ball in the air. All I want him to do is to bat between overs 4 and 16-17, somewhere there.”

“I feel that’s where he’s best in the world by a country mile and that’s where he’s most impactful,” he asserted.

Criticise Kohli at your own peril

For someone who has played with and against Kohli for years, de Villiers has seen from close quarters how the Indian star deals with criticism. The great Sunil Gavaskar was among those who had questioned Kohli’s approach in the early part of the tournament and the champion batter responded with a barrage of runs at an impressive strike rate.

“Yeah, I enjoyed that,” he said when asked about the constant debate over Kohli’s strike rate over the course of the season.

“I thought it was… really bad for someone like that for a hero and a role model of the country to get so much criticism around that. But the way I know him, I just knew and that’s exactly what I mentioned on my show. I said, guys, you have no idea what happens to this guy when he catches criticism.

“The many years I’ve played against him, I used to tell the players in the team room, you do not say one word to Virat on the pitch because he will come out and he will score a big 100 if you try and chirp him.”

“So maybe it was a blessing in disguise, getting a bit of criticism, because stuff like that motivates him so much. And maybe someone should come out just before this game tonight and say something bad to him. I’m praying for that,” he said ahead of the Eliminator against Rajasthan Royals.

RCB have made the IPL play-offs in remarkable fashion. They had only one win out of their first eight games before they made a comeback for the ages with six victories in a row to seal a play-off spot.

When the team is down and out, a player like Kohli can play a huge role in lifting the spirits and that is exactly what he did, said De Villiers. There was never a drop in Kohli’s intensity even when the team was losing game after game.

‘It just shows the kind of care that he has for the team and the desire to ultimately go and win a trophy. And when you’re down and out like that with one out of eight wins, to still see that as a teammate, from a teammate’s point of view, to see that in one of your senior players who’s achieved everything in cricket. I mean, he’s one of the greats of all time.

‘And you see someone like that and celebrating on the field after we’ve done just one out of eight. That’s got to be incredibly motivational, inspirational to say the least.

“And I think he played a huge role in lifting that team and getting them back on track purely by his attitude and by his fielding prowess and the way he threw himself around on the field, the run-outs he got, the celebrations, the tapping on the shoulders of some of the young players and celebrating other people’s success. That ultimately is a selfless act,” he added.


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