Ahead of the five-match T20I series opener against England on March 12, Indian batting legend VVS Laxman feels India captain Virat Kohli should “play freely and express himself”, given the “depth and quality in the Indian batting line-up” in the home series.
However, Team India clinched the four-match Test series 3-1 against England to reach the World Test Championship Final, but Kohli wasn’t impressive at all as a batsman, scoring just 172 runs in six innings.
Well now, the focus shifts towards white-ball cricket, and England has a strong fast bowling unit comprising Jofra Archer, Mark Wood, and Ben Stokes, while Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid are in the spin department and they will look to dismiss Kohli cheaply in the T20I series.
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Laxman said on Star Sports show Game Plan, “I definitely think it’s a strong fast bowling unit as far as England is concerned because they have got a lot of variations; they’ve got pace in the form of Mark Wood and Archer. Good death bowling options in the form of Jordan; Ben Stokes can be their all-rounder.
But their spin department looks a little weak compared to their fast bowling department. But as such, I feel that Kohli is a class batsman, he’s an outstanding batsman and with depth and quality in the Indian batting line-up, I think he should go and express himself.”
With the quality of batsmen in the Indian line-up, the former batsman has suggested Kohli not look to play the anchor’s role but play with more freedom to be very “dangerous” against England.
He further explained, “It’s not necessary for him to play the anchor role, because we know that he’s a stroke player. If he plays with positive intent, if he plays his high percentage shots, not only his strike rate will be high, but his consistency also will be there for everyone to see — he’s a match-winner.
With Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul opening the innings, and then you have got Shreyas Iyer, Hardik Pandya, Rishabh Pant, I think they have a lot of depth. So, Kohli should go out and express himself and play with a lot of freedom, and that’s when he’s very dangerous.”
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Laxman further pointed out how much the England team is very formidable and they were focused on winning the World Cup and they did in 2019 and this time, Eoin Morgan and his team’s goal would be the same.
He also said India has now a great time starting from home T20Is against England to start preparations for the forthcoming ICC T20 World Cup 2021 at home later this year.
The legendary batsman further noted, “They know that they are the number one T20 playing nation in world cricket, we saw what they did in the 50-over format — how much they are focused on winning the World Cup. I think it’s the same goal for Eoin Morgan and the England team.”
He signed off, “It’s a great opportunity for Team India because you are playing five matches in your home condition, followed by IPL and Asia Cup before the T20 World Cup. It’s a great opportunity to test your bench, which is why I feel the squad is very formidable — as far as the Indian squad is concerned.”
(With ANI Inputs)