As India and West Indies get ready to lock horns in the three-match T20I series, skipper Virat Kohli on Thursday said that the side needs to focus on batting first and defending totals ahead of the upcoming T20 World Cup.
In recent times, India has won the maximum number of matches while chasing in the shortest format. The Men in Blue lost one match against Bangladesh while batting first at Delhi and the same thing happened against South Africa at Bengaluru.
India is currently ranked at the number fifth position in the ICC T20I team rankings.
“We need to focus on batting first and defending low totals as well. Those are two things that we need to really focus on, T20 is a format where you can experiment a lot more things than ODIs and Tests. You want to give chances to the youngsters in the shortest format, we have not played the strongest eleven together in T20Is so rankings cannot be considered,” Kohli told reporters ahead of the first T20I.
“We have the mindset that we will not focus on the rankings. Now heading into the T20 World Cup, we need to take our best team to the field, we would probably be playing our strongest eleven going into the World Cup,” he added.
Wicket-keeper batsman Risbah Pant has been facing flak for not making the most of his opportunities. Kohli, however, said that the player needs to be left alone for a while as he has the capability to perform on the big stage.
“We certainly believe in Pant’s abilities. It is a collective responsibility of everyone to make the player feel comfortable. He needs to left alone, we know he is a match-winner, we have seen in IPL what we can do, he cannot be isolated, if you want him to do well, we need to make him feel that he belongs,” Kohli said.
Kohli gave the T20I series against Bangladesh a miss looking at his busy cricket schedule. However, the regular skipper has come back into the side for the shortest format and said that it is his responsibility to control the middle order.
He also commented on the bench strength of the Men in Blue and went on to praise Ravindra Jadeja, saying that the all-rounder is currently in his best phase in international cricket.
“I cannot tell you about the batting position of each player. I have come back into the side so it is my responsibility to take control of the middle order. One individual needs to bat long and others need to play with a good strike rate. Batting positions don’t matter in the shortest format, it is just about getting the job done,” Kohli said.
“Having two wrist spinners is a big advantage when you are playing in Australia as they have big fields. You need to have six bowling options in T20 cricket, I think that is the balance we need to create, there can be an opportunity to play two wrist spinners, but we need to find a way to work around that. Jadeja is in his best phase as an all-rounder, we are happy with how our options are placed. T20 cricket is all about being flexible,” he added.
India T20I squad: Virat Kohli (c), Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Rishabh Pant (wk), Shivam Dube, Washington Sundar, Ravindra Jadeja, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Deepak Chahar, Mohammed Shami, Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
India and West Indies are slated to play three T20Is and as many ODIs. The first T20I will be played on December 6 at Hyderabad.
(With ANI inputs)