In a recent interview, former South African cricket star AB de Villiers highly praised former India skipper Virat Kohli. As rumours swirled about India’s playing XI for the upcoming T20 World Cup in June, with speculations that Kohli might open alongside skipper Rohit Sharma, de Villiers shared his thoughts.
Reflecting on his playing days, De Villiers emphasised that Virat Kohli batting at number 3 was a formidable threat to opponents. He described Kohli as the “glue” of the Indian team in the middle order. He also noted that even though batting at number 3 is technically considered top-order, Kohli’s prowess allowed him to seamlessly combine with both the middle-order and tailenders, making it challenging for opponents to counter.
AB de Villiers said, “I have a different opinion. For most of my international career, Virat batting at No. 3 was the biggest threat for us when we played against India. I’ve always felt like he was the glue of the team in the middle order. No. 3 is not quite middle-order; it is top-order. But he is so good that he is often combined with the middle-order, even down to tailenders. It’s just impossible to play against that.”
AB de Villiers notes critical stats for Virat Kohli as the opener
Despite Kohli not opening in the recent T20I against Afghanistan, the speculations continue. This series against Afghanistan marked India’s final T20I series before the T20 World Cup. India had already secured the series, creating an opportunity for players like Rohit Sharma to regain their form in this dead rubber match.
Meanwhile, De Villiers expressed some concerns about Kohli opening with the new ball, citing specific statistics. He noted that when Kohli faces the very first ball as an opener, his average drops to 23, with a strike rate of 138. In contrast, when Kohli is at the non-striker’s end and doesn’t face the first ball, his average soars to 140, with an impressive strike rate of 173.
The T20I series against Afghanistan serves as a crucial platform for India before the T20 World Cup, allowing the team to fine-tune its strategy. Following this series, Team India is set to assemble in Hyderabad for Test series practice against England later in the month, where both Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli will play pivotal roles. The cricketing world eagerly awaits India’s final decision on its playing XI and the potential partnership at the top order in the upcoming T20 World Cup.