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How important is Virat Kohli for India's T20 hopes?

By Guest - 2024-03-28 18:27:06
How important is Virat Kohli for India's T20 hopes?

As India prepare for the T20 cricket World Cup, there doesn’t seem to be anyone that looks capable of stopping them from going all the way.

Last year’s defeat to Australia in the ODI was heart-breaking, but despite such a short period of time passing, so much has happened, and the latest dominant display in a resounding Test Series win over England on home soil demonstrated India’s true credentials as champions-elect.

India have just under three months left until their group opener against Ireland, but are clear favourites to pip the Aussies, as well as England, Pakistan and South Africa, to the title in Barbados.

A large part of the team’s success has been down to its refined leadership model. Rohit Sharma has taken over the captaincy, and with a young squad rising through the ranks and earning some debuts against England, it’s the perfect opportunity to alleviate the pressure of former captain Virat Kohli as he heads for what could be his T20 swansong as a crucial cog in the machine.

From his outgoing personality, dance moves, and ability to win over a crowd that adores him so much, ‘Chiku’ Kohil stepped down from his former role and can entirely focus his efforts on trying to avenge the ODI World Cup defeat and winning the T20 in what could be Kohli's last appearance in the tournament would ensure his career will have come full circle.

Last year, on his 35th birthday and in front of a delirious full house at Eden Gardens in Kolkata, Kohli joined Tendulkar on 49 ODI centuries when he made 101 not out in a crushing win over South Africa, but what makes him such a formidable presence and a massive boost for this Indian side?


Despite not featuring in T20 action since the last tournament, Chiku’s good form for RCB supercharges the Indian line up. Although a sixth place finish last season was underwhelming, Kohil enjoyed a great campaign personally that can help to drive the national team.

Known to be an aggressive batsman always on the lookout for runs, he has a slightly unconventional technique, Kohli is the leading run-getter in T20 Internationals with 4037 runs in 117 T20Is at an average of 51.75. He has what all great batsmen have, the ability to dominate and reduce attacks on many occasions to sheer mediocrity.

Having overcome personal issues away from cricket, he returns as one of the best in the world and if he can establish some dominant form as soon as the tournament gets underway he could prove instrumental in his side’s success.

Competition for places

As many have already pointed out, India have hardly suffered in terms of results in Chiku’s absence, rather they have just added more strings to their bow. Alongside senior players like Sharma, the test series against England saw the likes of Kuldeep Yadav and Ravi Ashwin come into bowling as well as Yashasvi Jaiswa, who was in fine form and looks like a future star at just 22 years old.

Dale Steyn stressed the importance of Chiku cementing his place in the team, especially with popular sports betting apps tipping India so favourably, and knowing the batter’s personality he won’t want to be watching from the sidelines.

"It's very important for him to score runs because that will put him in a good frame going into the (T20) World Cup” Steyn said. “There are many guys who have leapfrogged him recently because he has taken a bit of a break and there are many contenders to take to that World Cup."


The reduced leadership role, not bearing the pressure of going to the tournament as captain, can allow Kohil to still influence the dressing room while focusing on his own performances and lead more by example.

Known by many as the King, a title that he still feels embarrassed to be called by both supporters and teammates, he is a popular figure that has a real cultural impact in India. It will be great to see him back to his best, especially after suffering with personal issues outside of cricket.

Many have already sung his praises with, three-time World Cup winner Adam Gilchrist well aware of the batter’s abilities, saying: "He has a warrior mindset and that is the mindset of our country at this stage.

"While Sachin (Tendulkar) laid the foundation, Virat is taking that foundation to another level which showcases the newer India to the world.

"He cuts through not only different socio-economic strata of our country but across boundaries, across borders, across gender and across age groups.

Overall, it will take some real stopping force to prevent India going the distance and winning the T20 World Cup later this year. Since laying out the plan of attack at the end of 2023, Jay Shah has meticulously planned a strategy that should surely see India lift the trophy, and Kohil certainly has a huge part to play.

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