Australia’s star batter Steve Smith supports Virat Kohli’s inclusion in T20 World Cup team

Australia’s star batter Steve Smith supports Virat Kohli’s inclusion in T20 World Cup team

Australia’s star batter Steve Smith has thrown his weight behind Virat Kohli and said the former India captain should be included in the country's squad for the T20 World Cup to be played in the Caribbean and the United States in June.

Chennai: Australia’s star batter Steve Smith has thrown his weight behind Virat Kohli and said the former India captain should be included in the country's squad for the T20 World Cup to be played in the Caribbean and the United States in June. In recent weeks, there have been questions raised regarding Kohli’s place in the Indian side for the upcoming ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2024 as the top batter is currently returning after a two-month break to attend the birth of his son.

Kohli has largely been absent from India’s T20I squad since India’s defeat to England in the semifinals of the previous edition of the T20 World Cup in 2022. He has only played two T20Is since then, during Afghanistan’s tour of India for a three-match series in January earlier this year.

There was similar talk about his form ahead of the 2023 ODI World Cup but Kohli had a sensational tournament, emerging as the top scorer in the event held in India.

With the talk going around about excluding Kohli, Smith voiced his backing for Kohli when he highlighted the importance of Kohli in big tournaments like the T20 World Cup.

“He [Kohli] plays the situation,” Steve Smith told Star Sports. “Some wickets you play on, your strike rate doesn't need to be high. You play according to what's in front of you. We have seen Virat play some masterclass innings and get his team over the line, whether it has been RCB or India.

“I've been on the opposition in the Australian team when he has done this against us on numerous occasions.”

Over the years, Kohli has consistently risen to the occasion for India in high-pressure situations during the T20 World Cup.

One of his most celebrated heroics came in a tense encounter against Pakistan in the T20 World Cup 2022 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, where he orchestrated a remarkable victory for India with an unbeaten 82 off just 53 deliveries.

Before that memorable performance, Kohli had delivered crucial innings against Australia (scoring 82* off 51 balls) in the 2016 edition and South Africa (registering 74* off 42 balls) in 2014, demonstrating his ability to thrive in crunch situations on the T20 World Cup stage.

Smith emphasised the invaluable presence of seasoned players like Kohli, who possess the experience of performing under immense pressure on the grandest stages.

“What we know is that he plays extremely well under pressure,” Smith added. “He loves that. It's those players who you want in your team when you go into the World Cup and face pressure situations. You want the experienced players who stand up in those situations, and Virat is certainly one of those.”

The ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2024 in the USA and West Indies begins on 1 June. India will be in action on 5 June when they take on Ireland before attention shifts to the high-octane clash against Pakistan on 9 June, both of which will be played at the Nassau County International Cricket Stadium in New York. IANS

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Sentinel Assam
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