Former South Africa captain Graeme Smith wants Virat Kohli to use different scoring options like the sweep shot against spinners post-powerplay after the star India batter's "taking the game deep" approach has come under a bit of criticism. (More Cricket News)
Kohli has scored more than 400 runs opening the innings for Royal Challengers Bangalore in this IPL at a strike rate of 133-plus but he has not been able to force the pace of scoring in the middle overs.
"It is difficult to say if someone has been such a great batter. A couple of things that stand out for me is the Indian batters around Virat at RCB and they are way short," Smith, an expert for Jio Cinema in IPL, told PTI during an interaction.
"I think the middle-order has struggled after No. 3. They have tried a few combinations. Then at Nos 5 and 6, they have struggled and pressure has been put on Virat (Kohli), Faf (du Plessis) and (Glenn) Maxwell to be main performers. If RCB can find some areas of support, it can free up Virat even more," Smith added.
Unlike Mumbai Indians batter Suryakumar Yadav, who is a fine exponent of playing the sweep shot, Kohli's scoring areas are more traditional.
"We know Virat doesn't sweep much against spin and he pretty much plays down the ground. And if you had to set fields, probably you can do so and control his boundary count after the six overs and that may be an area he can assess."
Smith agreed with his one-time rival Ricky Ponting that there is no place for anchor batters, especially in Indian conditions.
"Look, I agree with Ricky in terms of his sentiment. The only thing I would add is that conditions need to be taken into account. In India, there is no place for anchor batters and scores in this IPL have been high and even higher with Impact Players and sometimes needing 215, 220 to be in the game," he said.
"The way the game has changed, I think Powerplay is slightly more manageable as there are more fielders in the ring. As soon as the field is spread and spinners come into play, people like SKY have changed the game and they are so dynamic that they score all over the ground. They sweep and makes it difficult as they are mentally ready to take on the game all the time."
JAISWAL IS KNOCKING DOWN DOOR
Smith termed young Yashasvi Jaiswal as an incredible performer, who is knocking the national team door with all ferocity, having already scored 575 runs.
"He (Jaiswal) has been incredible. Watched his domestic performances and growth in his game from last season. The natural ability to find gap and increased his strength on leg side and hasn't got out to spin which is a huge positive," the southpaw said.
"...and he has got a pretty good all-round game, but when you speak to him what comes out is that he is very determined. He takes a lot in his stride and there's pressure now on him to get higher honours and the way he is handling is superb."
"In terms of getting selected (in Indian team), he is certainly knocking down the door with performances and that's all he can do. Indian cricket is blessed to have so many options. India has Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Shubman Gill and selectors have some nice headaches as he (Jaiswal) has certainly put his name right there in conversation."
Smith, a former director of Cricket South Africa, also feels that BCCI and national selectors need to have a clear-cut policy for T20 team and also decide on some senior stars' future in the shortest format.
"One thing Indian cricket needs to decide is the strategy on senior players and in T20 cricket what is their strategy going forward with white ball tourney every year. I think the area that is starting to look strong is middle-order with Tilak Verma, SKY and Jitesh, you have got lot of power players.
"With (skipper) Hardik (Pandya) as an all-rounder, the middle order looks powerful and the big call will be the future of senior players," he concluded.