The first T20I between India and Australia at Brisbane was a thriller with Virat Kohli and his men losing the clash by just 4 runs. India were considered favourite for the clash, but eventually, Australia prevailed with a slightly better performance with bat and ball and on the field.
Except for Shikhar Dhawan, none of the Indian batsmen found the rhythm to take on the Australian bowlers. India persisted with KL Rahul at No 3, which they had first tried in the T20Is against England. But the move failed with Virat Kohli forced to bat at No 4, a position he is not familiar with.
Kohli dominates at No 3 in T20Is
Kohli has scored most of his runs at No 3, averaging 57.75 at this position in T20Is, scoring 16 fifties overall. But his average drops down to 33.12 at No 4 in T20Is, with just one fifty.
At No 3, Kohli gets to take control of the innings and pace his knock brilliantly. He can carry forward the momentum provided by the openers and if an early wicket falls, he can anchor the innings to a position of strength.
In the Brisbane T20I against Australia, he looked out of his comfort zone and was not able to find his rhythm and was dismissed for just 4 off Adam Zampa’s bowling while looking to hit the ball out of the ground.
Rahul struggles at No 3 in T20Is
On the other hand, Rahul has failed to grab his opportunities at No 3. He scored 101* against England at Manchester in his second chance at No 3. But since then, he has scores of 6, 19, 16, 17, 13 in his next 5 T20Is at No 3. Rahul’s lack of consistency at No 3 has put pressure in the middle-order which was evident in the first T20I at Brisbane.
So, who should bat at No 3 for India in T20Is?
Rahul has mostly found success as an opener in T20 cricket, with his IPL 2018 show proving his credentials as a limited-overs opening batsman. But his inconsistency in T20Is has not helped his cause.
With Rahul batting at No 3, Kohli has to drop himself at No 4 where he does not find himself comfortable batting. He gets less overs to bat at No 4 to dictate terms and control the game. And Kohli is not his aggressive self at that position. A stable Kohli at No 3 is important for India’s success in limited-overs cricket.
Rahul can come down to bat at No 4 and give Kohli his usual No 3 spot where he can be devastating with the bat. With India 1-0 down in the three-match T20I series, it makes a wise selection decision to give Kohli his old spot in the playing XI.