If India drop Kohli for T20 World Cup, it will be hard for him to get back in: Ponting

New Delhi, July 20 (IANS) Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting feels that if India decide to drop Virat Kohli for the T20 World Cup in Australia then there might be no way back for him.

Kohli has not scored a century since November 2019, struggled for runs during this year’s IPL and even failed to contribute much with the bat during the recently-concluded tour of England.

There have been calls to drop him from the national team but Ponting, who captained Australia to two World Cup triumphs in 2003 and 2007, says that if he was India, he would keep pushing Kohli to get his confidence back.

“If you leave Virat out of the eve of the World Cup, and someone comes in and has a reasonable tournament, it will be hard for Virat to get back in it,” Ponting said in the latest episode of The ICC Review.

“If I was India, I would keep pushing with him, because I know the upside. If they actually get him back confident and playing as well as he can, that upside is better than most. So I think if I was a captain or a coach around the Indian set up, I would be making life as easy as possible for him to feel as comfortable as possible, and just wait for him to flick the switch and start scoring runs again,” he added.

The Australian great also suggested selectors must find a spot for Kohli in India’s top-order and commit to leaving the champion batter there for the entirety of the T20 World Cup, with the hope he finds his best form during the knockout stages of the tournament.

“Early in the tournament, for a first-round game, (it’s important to) get him in nice and early, among the runs, and then hopefully by the end of the tournament you’ll have Virat Kohli back at his best,” he said.

“That’s the way I would look at it. I wouldn’t think about holding him back at the start of the tournament, with the thought that you might be able to bring him back towards the back end and have him peak. Tournament play isn’t like that.

“You need to work your way into the tournament, get some runs under your belt, and get some confidence and then be playing your best cricket at the back end,” he added.

Asked about India’s wicket-keeping options, the former Australia captain said he is well aware of Rishabh Pant strengths, with whom he has worked closely at Delhi Capitals but veteran Dinesh Karthik also must find a spot in the middle-order.

“We have seen what Rishabh is capable of in 50-over cricket and I know absolutely what he is capable of in the T20 game. Dinesh Karthik has had his best IPL ever just very recently… and I would be trying to find every way to have both of those guys in my team,” Ponting said.

“Rishabh to bat, in that three-four-five range, and have Dinesh and maybe Hardik Pandya… if you have those guys finishing for you, well that batting line-up looks very, very dangerous.

“Obviously that means someone like (Ishan) Kishan or Surya (Suryakumar Yadav) or (Shreyas) Iyer, someone like that, might miss out and I don’t think Surya will miss out given his current form.

“But when you have so much talent, picking an Indian team is always going to be difficult and Pant and Karthik would be the two I would pick ahead of Kishan right now.”

–IANS

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