Virat Kohli has conceded that opener Rohit Sharma’s record-shattering success in the ongoing Cricket World Cup has prompted the India skipper to adopt a more toned down, “controlling” approach in the middle order.
Sitting pretty at the top of the table, the team will take on a Kane Williamson-led New Zealand in the first semi-final of the 2019 edition, on Tuesday July 9.
— Wisden (@WisdenCricket) July 6, 2019
“It’s been a different kind of role I have played in this World Cup,” Kohli told reporters at Old Trafford. “It’s great that Rohit has been scoring so consistently, which means that coming in [during] the latter half of the innings you have to play a different role, which is controlling the middle overs and letting guys like Hardik [Pandya], Kedar [Jadhav], MS [Dhoni] and Rishabh [Pant] express themselves.”
The Indian middle order has been tested under varying conditions throughout the World Cup; collapses against Afghanistan and West Indies were not too damaging, but the batting has been mostly rallying around the irresistible form of Rohit Sharma.
Rohit’s batting has been phenomenal: he averages 92.42 from nine games, with his runs-tally of 647 being just 26 runs adrift of Sachin Tendulkar’s all-time World Cup record, set in 2003. The 32-year-old has blasted five centuries along the way – the most by any batsman in a single edition of the competition.
“Rohit said the same thing the other day, that he’s trying to do the best for the team,” added Kohli. “In that process, special things happen. I’m very happy for him and hope he gets two more [centuries] so we can win two more games.”
With Rohit firing all cylinders at the top, Kohli has been orchestrating the middle overs. Although he hasn’t breached the three-figure mark yet, the world’s No.1 ranked ODI batsman has racked up five successive fifties.
“I’ve understood that roles can vary a lot in one-day cricket depending on the time you step in to bat and I’ve been very happy holding [up] one end and letting other guys express themselves, striking at 150-160 and even 200.”