Former India opener Aakash Chopra has opined that veteran batter Virat Kohli is most effective when he bats at No. 3 spot in the Indian team amidst talks of him being shifted to No. 4 slot in the upcoming Asia Cup 2023 to strengthen the middle order.
India has struggled to fill the gap at No. 4 due to injuries to KL Rahul and Shreyas Iyer. Both batters are set to return in the Asia Cup 2023, but India is trying to prepare backups for the position in case they face another injury crisis.
Former India head coach Ravi Shastri and many others opined that it would be beneficial for India if Virat Kohli dropped down to the no.4 spot in the batting order in the absence of Shreyas Iyer, and Suryakumar Yadav's poor form.
Aakash Chopra however countered that and said that India will benefit more if Kohli plays at No. 3.
“There are two parameters to judge this. First, Virat Kohli’s success at No. 4 is good, but at No. 3 it’s exceptional. A significant sample size reinforces this and his peak equals India’s best. Hopes rest on his tournament performance – if he does well, India benefits; otherwise, a middle-order gap looms. Kohli’s effectiveness shines at No. 3, tackling new balls and closing games. Retaining this is vital," Chopra said on Jio Cinema.
Kohli has batted at No. 3 in 210 innings and has scored 10,777 runs at an average of 60.21. His record at No. 4 in the ODIs is equally impressive, where he has hit 1767 runs from 39 innings, at an average of 55.22.
"Just because he has the ability to bat at No. 4 shouldn’t mean that he should play there," Chopra further added.
India's middle-order conundrum involves batters like Ishan Kishan, Sanju Samson, KL Rahul, and Tilak Varma among others. Kishan is most likely to bat at No. 5 as he will be keeping wickets and India prefers Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill opening the innings.
“If KL Rahul is unavailable, Ishan Kishan’s placement becomes key. Sanju Samson can also replace him as a travel reserve - I am assuming without Rahul, Sanju Samson can enter the team. Given a No. 5 batter is needed, selection should be based on that specific condition. Samson, a middle-order batsman and keeper, should be the backup," Chopra said.
Furthermore, on social media platform X, Chopra opened pandora’s box after it was confirmed that KL Rahul will not play in the first two matches of Asia Cup 2023.
Chopra then mentioned how this will affect the Indian batting order asking if Ishan Kishan opens, will Shubman Gill bat at no.3 spot? Or whether Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, and Ishan Kishan will form the top three.
“KLR unavailable for the first two games. Opens up a host of discussion points…does Ishan open? If yes, where will Shubman bat? Or Rohit-Gill-Ishan bat 1-2-3 and then Kohli bats at 4? Or Rohit-Gill open…Kohli at 3 and Ishan at 5? Or Gill gets benched and Tilak/SKY bat at 5?,” Chopra posted.