Former cricketers Gautam Gambhir and Mathew Hayden have brushed away the argument that Virat Kohli would be opening the innings in the upcoming T20I series against Australia and Men's T20 World Cup, saying that the star batter should bat at No 3 for India in T20 cricket and there should not be any doubt that.
During the recently-concluded Asia Cup 2022, Kohli scored his maiden T20I century (122 not off 61 balls) which marked his resurgence to form.
Following a break from cricket, Virat had a brilliant Asia Cup where he emerged as the tournament's second highest scorer and was in sublime touch. His form is a good sign for India ahead of the ICC Men's T20 World Cup which is less than a month away.
The former India opener Gambhir said that he will expect the same fluency from Kohli in the T20I series against Australia, starting on September 20.
"Exactly the same fluency as what we saw in the Asia Cup. The only issue is, that when we saw him play that innings against Afghanistan it was at the top of the order. And in a T20 format, there is a huge difference in playing in the first six and after the first six. And when you go into the middle without having any scoreboard pressure, suddenly when you're one wicket down or probably will have to continue the momentum so that's a different ball game, but runs under your belt or no runs under your belt, there is no better feeling than scoring a hundred," Gambhir told Star Sports.
"And Virat goes into the series with a lot of confidence and I hope he continues his form because he is going to be very useful if India has to play well in the world cup because it's a very important position," he added.
On the other hand, former Australia opener Hayden said that Kohli is a great player of fast bowling and also shut down any discussion on the Indian batter's position in the team.
"Virat, you know, he's such a great player of fast bowling, and Australia's full of fast bowling in their cricket team and they are relying heavily on Adam Zampa through the middle stages now. Pointers to take pace off the ball, Mitch Marsh as well, he'll handle him nicely," the 50-year-old said.
"And this great debate around Virat batting up, GG (Gambhir) and I have already had this over the last couple of days, there's no way that he has to open the batting, he has to bat at number 3, simple as that. And again, it's another one of those things that you don't want to let the door open the discussion on this.
"You don't want to have a doubt, you don't want to have K.L Rahul in the masterful form that he's been in of late and Rohit Sharma who is captain of the team thinking 'I've got to kind of watch my spot here that you know I'm an opening batsman and my job is to play with freedom' and unfortunately, when you start having these debates and you start thinking 'oh maybe he, for his game, it should be him opening', I'm sure he wouldn't want to entertain that and put pressure.
"The one thing that you want to alleviate in the World Cup is the pressure. Just let the batting order rely on its own form and Virat Kohli can handle the situation. He's a world-class player, he can bat at three and he should bat at three in my opinion," he added.
Gambhir was in full support of Hayden's argument, saying the confusion over Kohli's batting order will put more pressure on other batters of the team.
"That's a very valid point, the moment someone starts doing very well, for example, if Virat Kohli has got a hundred in the last game, we all start forgetting about what K.L Rahul and Rohit Sharma have done over such a long period of time. And suddenly when you start this debate about Virat Kohli opening the batting, imagine what happens to K.L Rahul, you don't want your top-class players to be under pressure, especially someone like K.L Rahul, who's got probably more ability than Rohit Sharma or Virat Kohli. And we have seen that in international cricket and the IPL as well," he said.
"Think from India's point of view and not from an individual's point of view. So that's why I think you (Hayden) made a very valid point that we as experts and broadcasters should start thinking about how India can flourish in the World Cup rather than certain individuals who particularly want to bat at a certain number," he added.