Brian Lara Bats For Virat Kohli's Inclusion In India's T20 World Cup Squad

The Trinidadian said opening the innings with Kohli and Rohit in the T20 World Cup could be a tempting option, but strongly advocated India pairing a younger name with the experienced player at the pole position

Photo: X/ @ians_india
Former West Indies batter Brian Lara (R) in the IPL 2024. Photo: X/ @ians_india

The legendary Brian Lara on Monday asserted that Virat Kohli's value transcends cold numbers, and the West Indian virtuoso has little doubt that the star batter should be a part of India's T20 World Cup squad. (More Cricket News)

Kohli stood in the eye of a social media storm after making a 67-ball hundred for Royal Challengers Bengaluru against Rajasthan Royals in their IPL 2024 match at Jaipur, which was the joint slowest hundred in the competition alongside Manish Pandey’s century in 2009.

"The strike rate depends on position, and for an opener strike rate of 130-140 is pretty alright. But if you are coming in the middle-order then you may be required to hit at 150 or 160. As you have seen in this IPL, batsmen are hitting at 200 in the latter part of an innings," Lara said during the Star Sports Press Room which was also attended by former India batter Ambati Rayudu.

"But an opener like Kohli always has the chance of starting at 130, batting through the overs and finishing at 160 or even higher, which is alright.

"But if you ask me, India's top three in the World Cup should be Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and Shubman Gill irrespective of all these. And for RCB, it should not be about one person, as it has to be a team effort," said Lara.

The Trinidadian said opening the innings with Kohli and Rohit in the T20 World Cup could be a tempting option, but strongly advocated India pairing a younger name with the experienced player at the pole position.

“I think Rohit and Virat going as openers to the West Indies (for WC) will serve India very well. Though, I think that you should have some youthful punch in the opening. One of the younger players, showing their mettle, and having one of those experienced players shepherd the innings in the middle-order.

"Having that whole experience up front, it could have a negative effect if they get dismissed early, so I will use one at the top, but use the other at No. 3," said the left-hander.

That brought up the topic of Yashasvi Jaiswal’s lean patch for the Rajasthan outfit.

Jaiswal entered this IPL after a stunning Test series against England but he has so far failed to contribute anything worthwhile.

The left-hander has made just 39 runs from four matches, averaging a meagre 9.75.

Lara felt that the young star might be a bit anxious because of the impending team selection for the T20 World Cup.

"He had a very, very special Test series for India earlier this year. But I think he is a bit too anxious (about selection). It reflects in batting as there is not a lot of body or foot movement. He certainly has the ability but he is rushing to play the shots," said Lara.

The 54-year-old West Indian, who has scored upwards of 20,000 international runs, said Jaiswal should focus on the task at hand.

“It is quite natural that the young players like Jaiswal or Gill or Abhishek Sharma or Riyan Parag are a bit anxious. They know that if they score runs here, they can get into (India’s) World Cup team. But you need to separate those two thoughts.

“I had struggled with that in my playing days. My advice to them is to focus on the IPL, do your best to get runs and the World Cup (selection) will take care of itself,” he added.

'RCB Don’t Have Right Team'

Lara said the RCB does not have the right mix of players to make an impact in the tournament at the moment.

RCB are languishing at number nine on the points table with just two points from five matches.

"RCB is facing more of a structural problem. I don't think that they have the right team out in the middle. I don't think that they have the right batting order,” he said.

Lara pointed at the absence of hard-hitting Mahipal Lomror in the match against Royals as a case in point.

"Lomror, who I think has done everything asked of him, he came as an impact player, done well and still did not play in the match against Rajasthan Royals.”

Lara said it is impossible to win the IPL without major contributions from local players, hinting at the prominence foreign cricketers receive in the RCB establishment.

"They should just shift their attention a lot more to the local talent. A lot of emphasis is placed on the international talent. Of course, you’ve got Virat, but I think they've truly got good local talent.

"You cannot win an IPL trophy without performances from local stars. I’d like to see them included more in critical moments of the game,” he added.