Kohli and Rohit's Presence Crucial for T20 World Cup, Says Suresh Raina

Raina praises Kohli and Rohit's T20 inclusion for World Cup prep, and addressing challenges against Afghanistan's spinners in T20I series

Bengaluru: Contrary to the prevalent notion of it as a backward step, former India all-rounder Suresh Raina on Thursday termed the selection of veterans Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli into the national squad for the T20I series against Afghanistan as a wise call with the World Cup fast approaching.Rohit and Kohli were included in India's T20 squad after a gap of 14 months, and Raina said their presence will give the squad a lot of solidity.

"If you look at the World Cup venues (in the USA and the West Indies), the wicket will be a bit tricky. India will need the experience of Rohit and Kohli there. Kohli is about to make 12000 runs in T20 cricket.

So, their presence will boost India's batting. Their presence will certainly better India's chances to win the T20 WC," said Raina, now an expert with JioCinema and Sports18, in a select interaction.

"Their form in the ODI World Cup was very good, and Rohit brings in a lot of intent to the dressing room as the leader as well."

Raina opined that Kohli should bat at No. 3, leaving the opening slots to Rohit and Yashasvi Jaiswal.

"I think Kohli should bat at No. 3. His experience will bring in some solidity, especially in the challenging pitches in the US and the Caribbean. There are fearless, young cricketers like Jaiswal, Rinku Singh or Shubman Gill but Rohit and Kohli will give the unit a lot of solidity.

Their presence is very important when we chase a target especially in a high-pressure event like the World Cup," said Raina.

The former middle-order batter, who was part of India's World Cup wins in 2007 and 2011, was delighted to see the progress of Rinku Singh.

"Rinku has done well in the available opportunities for him and he showed a lot of presence of mind as a finisher as well. He is a fearless cricketer.

"It is important to have him around and if Rishabh Pant gets fit in time (for WC), then the team will have another match-winner," said Raina.

The 37-year-old backed Sanju Samson as his leading choice for the wicketkeeper batsman role and called the Kerala player the X-Factor.

"Sanju has made a wonderful hundred against South Africa recently. He is definitely a captain material as his mind is ticking all the time while on the field. We have some very good options for wicketkeeper-batter role -- KL Rahul, Jitesh Sharma, Ishan Kishan and Pant whenever he comes back after getting fit."

In that context, Raina hoped Samson would come up with a good outing against the Afghans and in the IPL 2024.

"I prefer to have Sanju in the middle-order because he has a lot of shots. He plays those pick-up shots against pacers from the length. Hopefully, he performs well in the IPL too before the selectors sit down to select the team for the T20 World Cup.

So, it is a good chance for Sanju against Afghanistan, and he can be our X-Factor in the World Cup," he detailed.

Raina said India will not have it easy against Afghanistan in the three-match T20I series, and the batters will have to put the visiting bowlers under pressure.

"India batsmen will have to attack Afghan spinners. They have quality spinners like Noor Ahmad and Abid Nabi, so it won't be easy for us. Afghanistan uses their spinners well in the Power Play.

We have Rohit, Kohli, and Gill, who plays spin very well. So, we have to attack them from the start and it will keep the Afghan bowlers under pressure," he concluded.

( Source : PTI )
Next Story