Team India endured a disappointing campaign in the 2022 Asian Cup when the team was eliminated in the Super 4 stage of the tournament. But even when the Rohit Sharma-led Indian team failed to make it to the final, there was an obvious positive for the squad: the return of form from Virat Kohli. The Indian batter finished as the second highest points scorer in the continental tournament with 276 runs in five games with a brilliant batting rate of 147.59. Kohli also ended a century-long wait as he went unbeaten at 122 in the side’s final game against Afghanistan in Dubai.
Kohli had opened the innings alongside KL Rahul in the game when captain Rohit chose to rest. After the innings, there were debates about Kohli taking the opening role in the Indian batting order alongside Rohit; the discussions were fueled by KL Rahul’s poor form since his return to the international lineup last month. In the Asian Cup, the Indian opener scored 132 runs in five games with a stroke rate of 122.22.
Also read: “Don’t pick a player for 10-12 balls. He showed no interest in playing in the top-5: Gambhir’s fierce comment about Pant vs Karthik
However, former India opener Gautam Gambhir, who has worked closely with Rahul during their respective stints with Indian Premier League franchise Lucknow Super Giants, stated that people seem to have forgotten Rahul’s contributions in recent years.
“Do you know what is happening in India? The moment someone starts to do really well… for example, if Virat Kohli scored a hundred in the last game, we all start to forget what Rahul and Rohit have been doing over a long period of time. When you talk about Kohli opening the battle, imagine what happens to KL Rahul? Imagine how much uncertainty he must feel. Imagine if he gets a low score in the first game, there will be another debate about whether Kohli should open in the next game,” Gambhir said on star sport during a virtual press conference ahead of India’s three-match T20I series against Australia.
“You don’t want your top players in that position, especially not KL Rahul, who probably has more abilities than Rohit Sharma or Virat Kohli. Imagine KL Rahul going into the World Cup and thinking ‘what if I don’t score any points against Pakistan? What if I am replaced by Virat Kohli?’ You don’t want that,” Gambhir continued.
The former India opener also said Rohit Sharma would have similar insecurities about his role had he not been the side’s captain.
“That’s why we shouldn’t cherish that question. Think from India’s point of view. Think from KL Rahul and Rohit Sharma’s point of view. Well, Rohit is the captain now. Imagine if he wasn’t the captain, what would he have felt? Everything comes down to KL Rahul,” said Gambhir.
“We need to start thinking about how India can prosper, rather than certain individuals.”