Kohli ready to bat No. 4 if required

Kohli ready to bat No. 4 if required

MAKING IT CLEAR Indian captain Virat Kohli says IPL performances will have no bearing on team selection for the upcoming World Cup. PTI

Recently India coach Ravi Shastri said he’s thinking about the prospect of playing Virat Kohli at No. 4 in the World Cup in order to protect the team’s premier batsman from being exposed to hostile conditions early on. Shastri also felt such a move would lend depth to the batting line-up.

Skipper Kohli, who has batted at his favoured No. 3 position in 163 games out of 222 career appearances and 40 times at number 4, echoed his coach’s thoughts, saying he’s prepared to do anything for the team. “If that’s the requirement of the team at a particular stage in the game or before a particular game, I’m more than happy to do it,” said Kohli on Friday.

“I’ve batted a lot of times at No 4, so I don’t necessarily need to try it out because I’ve done that a lot of times in the past. My game doesn’t change from No 3 to No 4 because template is quite similar. In any given situation, I back myself to play the game that I know. If the team wants it at any stage, I’m more than happy to do it.”

The skipper also hailed the return to form of talented KL Rahul, who went through wretched tours of England and Australia before attracting plenty of criticism for his comments in a TV chat show.

“KL when he plays well is operating at a different level I feel and we’ve seen him do that in the IPL last year and in patches over the last season we played as a team. Hopefully, he can keep batting like that. It’s very difficult to find a consistent player who can find good cricketing shots and still win you games and strike at over 140 or 150. He has all the shots and has a solid game as well. Hopefully, he can build on it and get as many games under his belt, playing as much cricket as possible. And then it will be interesting to see what happens in the final World Cup squad. Definitely, he has made a strong case for himself.”

The five-match ODI series against Australia is India’s last international commitment ahead of the World Cup that kicks off on May 30. After the series nearly all of them will be turning up in IPL, an event that will conclude just a fortnight before the big bash in England. When asked if performances in IPL could help players secure a World Cup ticket, Kohli replied in the negative.

“No, I don’t see IPL having any influence on World Cup selection. I think that will be very very radical sort of analysis. We need to have a solid team. Before we head into the IPL we need to be absolutely clear of what team we want for the World Cup. I don’t see anything changing of how the IPL goes for any of the players. If one or two players doesn’t have a good IPL season, it doesn’t mean that they are out of the picture for the World Cup. Those things are not going to matter,” said Kohli.