ANI Photo | “Some wickets you play on, strike rate need not to be high…”: Steve Smith backs Virat’s inclusion in India T20 WC squad

Australia’s star batter Steve Smith has backed Virat Kohli’s inclusion in India’s T20 World Cup 2024 squad, saying that strike rate does not need to be high on every wicket and the star batter plays according to situation.

In recent weeks, there have been questions raised regarding Virat Kohli’s place in the Indian side for the upcoming ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2024.
Kohli has largely been absent from India’s T20I squad since India’s defeat to England in the semi-finals 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, scoring a quick-fire 29 and a duck in both the matches.
Amidst the chatter, one of the members of the modern-day ‘Fab Four’ of batting voiced his backing for the other when Steve Smith highlighted the importance of Kohli in big tournaments like the T20 World Cup.
“He [Kohli] plays the situation,” Steve Smith told Star Sports as quoted by ICC.
“Some wickets you play on, your strike rate does not need to be high. You play according to what is 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” Smith said.
“I have been on the opposition in the Australian team when he has done this against us on numerous occasions,” Smith concluded.
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 emphasized 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. He loves that. It is 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,” said Smith.
Notably, Virat is the highest run-getter in T20I cricket. In 117 matches, he has scored 4,037 runs at an average of 51.75 and a strike rate of over 138, with a century and 37 fifties in 109 innings. His best score is 122*.
Also, Virat is the most decorated batter in the history of the ICC T20 World Cup and is its leading run-scorer. In 27 T20 WC matches, Virat has made 1,141 runs at an average of 81.50 and a strike rate of 131.30, with 14 half-centuries in 25 innings. His best score is 89*. He was also the ‘Player of the Tournament’ in 2014 (319 runs in six matches at an average of 106.33 with four fifties) and 2016 (273 runs in five matches at an average of 136.5 with three fifties) editions, in which India finished as runners-up and semifinalists respectively. He ended as the leading run-scorer in 2014. During the successful run chases in nine innings of the tournament, Virat averages a massive 518 as he has been only dismissed once.
In the 2022 edition in Australia, Virat ended as the leading run-getter, with 296 runs in six matches at an average of 98.66 and a strike rate of 136.40, with four fifties. His knock of 82* against Pakistan in a tough run-chase of 160 runs at Melbourne is also considered as one of the best T20I knocks ever played.
Virat is a chase-master in T20Is, scoring 2,012 runs in 52 matches while chasing at an average of 71.85 and a strike rate of over 136, with 20 fifties. His record gets multi-fold greater in T20 WC during the run-chases. In nine innings while chasing during the marquee tournament, Virat has scored 518 runs at a batting average of 518.00! This is because he was dismissed only once while chasing. He has scored centuries in seven innings while chasing.
The ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2024 in the USA and West Indies begins on June 1. India will be in action on June 5 when they take on Ireland before attention shifts to the high-octane clash against Pakistan on June 9, both of which will be played at the Nassau County International Cricket Stadium in New York. (ANI)

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