The buzz around a selection day, especially for big tournaments like Asia Cup can be thrilling. Even more so than the thrilling T20I games we have witnessed in last two months as India took on England and West Indies. The squad for the upcoming Asia Cup will be revealed in few hours time, and one name is bound to get all the attention: Virat Kohli.
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Statistically speaking, the last twelve months has been one of the toughest for him as he has not been able to go past 150 runs in 9 matches in this format. His average (24.83) is a pale shadow of his career average (50.12). And it’s not just average, Kohli’s strike rate (113.74) is also not in sync with his career strike rate (137.66). Moreover, we are not even going to mention his IPL numbers of 2022 which of course wasn’t great either.
Since the last T20 World Cup, Kohli has been rested for as many as four series: New Zealand, Sri Lanka, South Africa, and the ongoing Caribbean tour. Furthermore, he was rested for the three-match ODI series in Zimbabwe starting August 18. Since there has always been some sort of mystery regarding the word ‘rest,’ (Because we don’t know if selectors gave it to the player or the player asked for it) the Asia cup selection is going to generate a lot of heat!
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In an exclusive interview with former West Indies captain Brain Lara, the writer wanted to get across an outsider’s viewpoint.
It’s not a secret that Lara has been one of the staunchest supporters of Sachin Tendulkar. He saw how the ‘God of Cricket’ copped with such heat during his 25-year-old long career. No surprises, that West Indies legend has similar thoughts on Kohli’s present day situation.
“I respect Virat Kohli as a player, and he is going to come out of it as a much better player,” the 53-year-old said.
“He will be learning a lot of things at this point of time. You cannot write him off,” warns the former West Indian great who has scored 10000 plus runs in both Test and ODIs.
Skipper Rohit Through Numbers
Meanwhile, Kohli may not be going through a great run, but his captain Rohit Sharma has won yet another T20 series abroad with distinct ease. Since taking over the leadership baton from Kohli, Rohit as a full-time captain has won against New Zealand T20Is (3-0), West Indies ODIs (3-0), T20Is (3-0), Sri Lanka T20Is (3-0), Tests (2-0), England T20Is (2-1) and ODIs(2-1).
He was rested for the ODI leg of West Indies tour where stand-in captain Shikhar Dhawan led the team to a 3-0 whitewash. Furthermore, this team will be looking forward to making it 4-1 in the current 5-match T20 series when they take them on Sunday.
However, more than his captaincy, Lara has been an unabashed admirer of Rohit the batter. The current Indian captain is apparently not burdened by the additional responsibility, and the only one with 30+ runs with a strike rate of 200+ in a T20Is, achieving the feat on 3 occasions.
The Mumbaikar who crossed 16000 internationals during the Florida T20 game is also now the second most ferocious six-hitters of all time. His 477 sixes in international cricket are only bettered by West Indian Chris Gayle’s 553. “He is an unbelievable player. I think lots of Indian years players are very aggressive and Rohit is an amazing player,” Lara said.
Rohit Sharma’s career strike rate has now gone past 140 plus and it has a lot to do with his new role as captain where he is leading the team from the front by showing how to bat aggressively from the word ‘go.’
Even if he is not getting a big inning like a 50 or 100, his cameos at the top are giving the team much-needed momentum in the beginning. And that is why India has been piling nearly 200 plus scores without a single fifty from any batsman as we saw in 4th T20I against West Indies.
Rohit Sharma vs Babar Azam
For the record, Pakistan’s Babar Azam has got the most T20I Runs(1330) in the first 35 innings as captain, but his strike rate (132) is nowhere close to Rohit’s (154). Furthermore, Rohit has also accounted for 1161 runs which is second most by any international captain in the first 35 innings. Who knows by the time Asia Cup is over, Rohit may go past Babar in this list as well!
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