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Cricket World Cup 2019

Virat Kohli calls KL Rahul’s ton ‘biggest positive’ in warm-up win

by Wisden Staff 3 minute read

India’s win in their second and final warm-up game ahead of the 2019 World Cup might have resolved, among other things, one of their biggest concerns: who bats at No. 4?

With a 95-run win against Bangladesh at Cardiff, Virat Kohli’s team returned to winning ways, after conceding their first game, to New Zealand, by six wickets.

Rahul’s stellar effort, as he reeled off a 99-ball 108, ended up being the biggest talking point, given the immense scrutiny that has surrounded the No. 4 position and its most suitable occupant.

“The biggest positive from today was the way KL [Rahul] batted at No. 4,” Kohli said. “Everyone else knows their roles. It is important that he gets the runs and he is such a class player. MS [Dhoni] and Hardik were superb as well.”

Rahul was originally picked in the squad as a back-up opener, with MSK Prasad, the chairman of selectors, suggesting that Vijay Shankar, Kedar Jadhav and Dinesh Karthik were possible options. Rahul has been in tremendous touch ever since returning to the team following his suspension earlier this year. On his return to India colours in February, he scored 50 and 47 in two T20 internationals against Australia at home. Then, in the 2019 IPL, his tally of 593 runs was bettered only by the Orange Cap winner David Warner [692].

Speaking after his knock in Cardiff, Rahul maintained that he is ready to take up whichever role he is offered by the team.

“It is a team game, and you need to be flexible and be ready to bat wherever, or as a player, you need to be ready to take up whatever role is given to you,” he said. “All of us are prepared that way, and nothing that is given to any individual now will come off as a surprise. Everybody has been tried and tested in different positions.”

Rahul apart, India also received encouraging signs from the form of their two frontline spinners. India tried out seven bowlers against Bangladesh, and Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal led the pack, capturing three wickets each.

“We were challenged by their [Bangladeshi] batsmen as well, but we bowled well and our spinners got wickets too. Bumrah got us the breakthrough, and Chahal and Kuldeep got us six wickets,” Kohli said.

Although Rohit Sharma [2 and 19] and Shikhar Dhawan [2 and 1] couldn’t post substantial scores in the two warm-up games, Kohli remained confident that the experienced openers would find their form in the marquee tournament. “We have had two good challenges in the two games while batting first. Shikhar and Rohit are quality players, they become stars in ICC events,” he said.

“I understand if guys don’t get going right away in this format, but I am glad with what we got out of these two games.”

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