Indian opener Rohit Sharma has made it clear that skipper Virat Kohli opening the innings alongside him in the fifth and final T20I against England was a one-off tactical punt as the team wanted to play an extra bowler and thus had to drop out-of-form opener, KL Rahul.
Virat Kohli promoted himself to the top of the order in the series-decider and the move paid off handsomely as he and Rohit Sharma gave Team India a rollicking start to pave way for the home side to post their highest T20I total of 2/224 against England.
The duo racked up a 92-run-stand in a mere nine overs and though Rohit got dismissed for a 34-ball 64, Virat Kohli (80* off 52 balls) stayed unbeaten till the end and with the likes of Suryakumar Yadav and Hardik Pandya chipping in with valuable cameos, helped Team India post an eventual match-winning total.
Later in the post-match presentation, Virat Kohli hinted at the fact that he may open alongside Rohit Sharma on a regular basis in the future.
However, the Indian vice-captain clarified in the press conference that it was purely a tactical move.
“Still early days to be talking about what the batting lineup will be looking like in the T20 World Cup. We have to analyze and think about what suits the team the most,” said Rohit Sharma.
“Today was a tactical move because we wanted an extra bowler to play. We wanted to leave 1 batsman out and unfortunately, it was KL Rahul,” Rohit added.
‘He has been one of our key players in limited-overs format’- Rohit Sharma on KL Rahul
KL Rahul endured a nightmarish series against England in which he managed scores of 1,0,0,14 before being eventually dropped from the team for the series-decider as the home side opted to go with an extra seam-bowling option in T Natarajan.
Rohit Sharma, however, came in the defense of KL Rahul, stating that the out-of-form opener still remains one of their key players in the shortest format of the game and that Virat opening in the final T20I does not mean that champion opener KL Rahul will not be considered for T20s in the future.
“He has been one of our key players in limited-overs format, especially in this format. Looking at the current form the team management decided to play the best XI. But having said that, it doesn’t send any signal that KL will not be considered this was just for one particular game,” added Rohit Sharma.
”Things might change as we go closer to the World Cup, we do understand his ability and contribution at the top and what he’s done for us. I’m not going to rule out anything neither am I going to say that this is the preferred batting lineup for the World Cup,” he said.