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India vs England: A Versatile Kohli Eases Back Into Form With New Purpose & Strategy

Virat Kohli made a big statement returning to form with a Player of the Series performance against England in Ahmedabad. He was versatile and put the team over the individual excelling from three different positions in the series. It was his presence at one end which allowed the likes of Kishan, Suryakumar Yadav, Hardik and even Rohit Sharma to go after the bowling from the other.

India vs England: A Versatile Kohli Eases Back Into Form With New Purpose & Strategy

While India found new heroes in the form of Ishan Kishan and Suryakumar Yadav who made headlines with sensational performances in their debut series, it was their talisman and the greatest batsman in limited overs’ history, who, with a new found approach and strategy paved the way for others to express themselves around him playing the role of the anchor from different batting positions throughout the series. India’s captain Virat Kohli eased back into form with three top-notch performances and ended with the highest aggregate in the series.

Kohli had not been at his destructive best since 2020 and was going through the leanest phase of his international career. Prior to the start of the T20I series, he had just managed to score 1014 runs in 30 international innings across the three formats in this time-frame at an average of 34.96. The Indian captain had registered just 9 fifties and no hundred during this period. Kohli’s Failure Rate was as high as 56.67% – very high for a top-order batsman of his calbre – in this period. He had been dismissed for less than 30 in as many as 17 of the 30 innings he had batted in in this time-frame.

Although he had recorded three Test fifties in tough conditions in difficult situations for India – one in Adelaide and the other two in the home series against England – Kohli was not at his dominating best and the failures were more prominent than the few successes in between. He registered two consecutive ducks – in the last Test against England in Ahmedabad and then in the T20I series opener at the same venue – for the first time in his international career.

Kohli needed to make a statement. And he did it in style! He backed his new attacking strategy although it failed in the first match of the series. He allowed debutant Ishan Kishan to go after the bowling while playing second fiddle in the 94-run defining partnership in the second T20I in Ahmedabad. Kohli, batting at number three, continued to play anchor even as Rishabh Pant attacked from the other end. He only accelerated towards the end in his stand with Shreyas Iyer remaining unbeaten on a fine 73 off 49 deliveries helping India chase down England’s 164 with seven wickets in hand and 13 deliveries to spare. The plan was clear. Kohli was going to be the playmaker while the other batsmen adopted an aggressive all-out attack policy from the other end.

He dropped down to number four in the third encounter to accommodate Rohit Sharma at the top of the order and give Kishan a chance at number three. Even as wickets tumbled around him, the Indian captain was defiant and came up with a masterclass unbeaten 77 off 46 deliveries hammering 8 fours and 4 sixes contributing almost half of India’s total of 156. Once again, his transformation from accumulator for two-thirds of his innings to aggressor at the death was fascinating. Kohli had scored just 39 runs off the first 33 deliveries he faced in the innings. He then blasted 38 off 13 balls at a strike rate of 292.31!

Kohli then produced a series-defining performance, again from a different batting position in the decider on Saturday. With Rahul out of form and wanting to continue with Suryakumar at number three, the Indian captain saw an opportunity and promoted himself to open the innings with Rohit Sharma. And it turned out to be a masterstroke as India posted their fourth-highest total in the format. Once again, he started off slowly allowing Rohit Sharma and then Suryakumar to go helter-skelter at the other end and then accelerated brilliantly towards the death. From 25 off 23 deliveries, Kohli remained unbeaten on a match-defining 80 off 52 deliveries.

Kohli attached a price on his wicket, even in T20 cricket and produced three gems for India to end as the Player of the Series. It was his calming and inspirational influence and encouragement from one end which allowed the likes of Kishan, Suryakumar, Pant, Rohit and Hardik to go ballistic at the other.

He put team over the individual and moved around in the batting order excelling from three different positions in the series. In the process he discovered a new role for him at the top of the order which may turn out to be a game-changer for India should Kohli open with Rohit Sharma at the World T20 in October.

Not only does the move throw up an extra opening option for India but also allows them to play both Suryakumar and Iyer in the middle order and an extra specialist bowler in the XI.

Yes, it has been a few innings since Kohli last got an international hundred but those are not the kind of numbers that bother the King. He has just led India to their sixth consecutive bilateral series win in T20 cricket and has his sights set on the mega event in October.

Team Rankings

1 Australia 3028 116
2 New Zealand 2406 115
3 India 3085 114
4 England 4326 106
5 Sri Lanka 2454 91
FULL Ranking
1 England 5405 123
2 India 6102 117
3 New Zealand 3716 116
4 Australia 4344 111
5 South Africa 3345 108
FULL Ranking
1 England 6877 275
2 Australia 6800 272
3 India 10186 268
4 Pakistan 7516 259
5 South Africa 5047 252
FULL Ranking