Kohli’s return to form in the Asian Cup, particularly as an opener when he ended his century-long wait with a 61-ball 122 against Afghanistan, has fueled debate over the questioned whether he should be preferred to Rahul at the top in next month’s showpiece in Australia. .
“Do you know what is happening in India? The moment when someone begins to do very well, for example, when Virat Kohli scored one hundred in the last game, we all start to forget what Rahul and Rohit did over a long period,” Gambhir told Star Sports during a virtual press conference ahead of India’s three-match T20I series. against Australia.
“When you talk about Kohli opening the stick, imagine what happens to KL Rahul… Imagine how insecure he (Rahul) must feel. Imagine if he gets a low score in the first game, there will have another debate on whether Kohli should open in the next game.”
Coming back from a lengthy injury layoff after the IPL, Rahul is yet to hit the straps and scored a half-century in seven innings. In the Asian Cup, he averaged 26.40, with 132 runs in five sets.
But Gambhir, who coached the Rahul-led Lucknow Super Giants in the IPL earlier this year, said the hitter should be allowed free play. Under Rahul, LSG bowed out in the Eliminator, going down to Royal Challengers Bangalore by 14 points.
“You don’t want your best players in that position, especially KL Rahul who probably has more ability than Rohit Sharma or Virat Kohli.”
“Imagine KL Rahul going into the World Cup thinking, ‘what if I don’t score points against Pakistan? What if I’m replaced by Virat Kohli?’ You don’t want that. We should start thinking about how India can prosper, rather than about certain individuals,” Gambhir said.
India’s squad for the T20 World Cup
With Dinesh Karthik and Rishabh Pants both in the team bound for Australia, there is also no clarity on the role of the designated wicket-keeper.
Karthik was preferred to Panting in their Asian Cup opener against Pakistan, but the southpaw returned in the Super 4 games against Pakistan and Sri Lanka, while the two featured against Afghanistan when the skipper Rohit Sharma is absent.
Indeed, the legendary Sunil Gavaskar also talked about playing both goalie-beaters, but Gambhir disagreed.
“You can’t do that. If you do that, you’ll miss a sixth bowler and you won’t go to the World Cup with five bowlers. You have to have a backup.
“Unless you drop someone like Suryakumar Yadav, or KL Rahul has a bad tournament, and you can start with Rishabh Pant opening the stick. Otherwise, I don’t see these two players in the middle order “, did he declare.
DK has no interest in hitting higher
Gambhir further stated that Karthik, who plays as a finisher, has “shown no interest” in hitting higher positions.
“I’ve also said this in the past, you don’t pick a T20 player just to play 10-12 balls. There’s no guarantee he’s going to win you games. And Dinesh Karthik, unfortunately, doesn’t showed no batting interest in the top-5.
“Your wicket-keeper has to be able to hit top 5 and Rishabh Pant has that quality to hit any number for that matter,” he added.
“I will definitely have Rishabh Pant in my batting order. I don’t believe in the idea that you need a southpaw in the middle order. That’s not the criteria, especially on a team like the ‘India.
“The criteria should be – do you have the ability to win a game? Rishabh Pant has that. So yes, Pant to start at No. 5, Hardik Pandya at 6, Axar at 7 and see if you want Ashwin at 8, followed by three setters,” he concluded.