Ricky Ponting feels Virat Kohli will serve India best as opener during T20 WC.

New Delhi : Australian batting legend Ricky Ponting said that star Indian batter Virat Kohli should open with skipper Rohit Sharma in the upcoming ICC T20 World Cup, starting from June 1 in West Indies and USA.

India’s T20 World Cup campaign begins on 5 June against Ireland before the newly-constructed Nassau County International Cricket Stadium in New York takes centre stage for the epic India vs Pakistan clash on 9 June. They will later play tournament co-hosts USA (12 June) and Canada (15 June) to wrap up their Group A matches.

Virat is the highest run-scorer in the history of the tournament, scoring 1,141 runs at an average of 81.50 and a strike rate of 131.30, with 14 fifties in 25 innings. His best score is 89*.

While Kohli has been in fine form in the role of opener for Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) at the ongoing Indian Premier League with a tournament-best 708 runs from 14 innings at a strike rate above 155 and a century and five half-centuries, questions have been raised about his strike rate at the top of the batting order.

Australia legend Ponting, a three-time ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup winner, says that while strike rates have taken precedence over averages in recent times, Kohli remains as relevant to India’s fortunes as before.

“The mantra I think for the teams three or four years ago, was making sure that someone at the top of the order made 80 or 100, even if it took them 60 balls, it did not really matter,” Ponting told the ICC.

“I think it is sort of shifting now to be more of a strike rate-based game where you can have a massive impact on a game with a 40 off 15 balls rather than getting an 80 off 55 balls sort of thing,” he added.

While Kohli has primarily batted at number three for India in the shortest format in the past, Ponting thinks the 35-year-old will be best served to open the batting alongside skipper Rohit Sharma at the T20 World Cup.
“They (selectors) have still got a decision to make because (Yashasvi) Jaiswal is in that squad and one thing they have not got a lot in their team is left-hand batters,” Ponting noted.

“So they have got a decision to make with Jaiswal, but I am pretty sure that they will go with Kohli and Rohit Sharma (as openers),” he concluded.
India squad: Rohit Sharma (c), Hardik Pandya (vc), Yashasvi Jaiswal, Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Rishabh Pant (wk), Sanju Samson (wk), Shivam Dube, Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Arshdeep Singh, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohd. Siraj

Reserves: Shubman Gill, Rinku Singh, Khaleel Ahmed and Avesh Khan.