Hayden expects short-of-runs Kohli to ‘work out what to do’ in the Caribbean

Matthew Hayden feels that Virat Kohli’s experience of assessing surfaces and adjusting to the variables in the Caribbean – India play at three different venues in the Super Eight – are more crucial than his lack of runs so far at the T20 World Cup 2024.

Kohli has so far made scores of 1, 4 and 0 in his three innings in the group stage. However, his form prior to that was fantastic – he was the leading run-getter at IPL 2024 with 741 runs in 15 innings at a strike rate of 154.69, his highest in an IPL season.

“Kohli in any conditions is a world-class batter,” Hayden said on Star Sports Press Room. “These [Caribbean] are venues where you have to construct an innings and think about the kind of realistic totals that are possible in these different venues.

“Outside of St Lucia, par scores are in the range of 160-170 and Virat, with all his experience, will be able to work out what to do, like hitting spin towards the windward side, depending on how significant it is.

“Look, conditions in the USA were extremely tough, no one likes that. Everyone wants to see these great champions playing freely. But it’s not necessarily going to be the case. That’s why experience counts.”

Hayden was also firm in his assessment that opening alongside Rohit Sharma was Kohli’s best option in T20s even though teams have turned to spin early against him.

“I said it during the IPL as well, if Kohli was going to be in the team, he needs to open,” Hayden said. “Virat at three, I don’t think we’ll get the best out of him. You can’t just turn up and blast 250 on these wickets, you need thinking cricketers.

“He needs to continue to have a great strike rate. We’ve clearly seen a pattern emerge here at the World Cup where those six overs [powerplay], you have to be in front of the game. It’s too hard to catch up”

Matthew Hayden

“You look back at David Warner’s performance this World Cup – in Barbados on a sluggish wicket, he made 30-odd [39 in 16 balls vs England]. It was a really well-constructed thirty. It depends on what your benchmark is. Are you looking at 100s, 50s, strike rate?

“The way Warner came out on a pretty [tough] wicket and blew the game away, that’s what Kohli is going to be challenged with in the Caribbean. Just leave him alone. He will show you why the Indian selectors have had faith in him at that position.”

But Hayden also had a word of caution for Kohli.

“He needs to continue to have a great strike rate,” Hayden said. “We’ve clearly seen a pattern emerge here at the World Cup where those six overs [powerplay], you have to be in front of the game. It’s too hard to catch up. If you’re looking at the back-half of the game, it’s trouble. You must be clinical in the first ten.”

Bishop on Bumrah: ‘This guy is a generational bowler’

Unlike Kohli, Jasprit Bumrah has had a tournament to remember so far. After missing the 2022 edition in Australia because of a back injury, Bumrah has made a big mark at this T20 World Cup with back-to-back Player-of-the-Match awards against Ireland and Pakistan.

Against Pakistan, in particular, his late spell with the game on a knife’s edge was special. With Pakistan needing 40 off 36, he cracked open the game by dismissing Mohammad Rizwan, and then had Iftikhar Ahmed off the final ball in the penultimate over. Bumrah finished with 3 for 14.

Ian Bishop believes that teams have become wary of taking the attack to Bumrah, mainly because of what he can do, but also because of his reputation.

“Jasprit is smart, a good communicator who thinks about the game,” Bishop said. “It starts from the foundation, but he has also developed variations and knows better than most bowlers when to use his variations.

“You hear him say, ‘it’s not every day I go hunting for wickets – there are days I bowl my yorker at the stumps, days I bowl a wide yorker; there are days when I assess conditions and bowl my slower ball into the pitch or use my bouncer’. In addition to that, he has other ingredients.

“He has a unique action where the ball gets on to you a lot quicker than batters anticipate, the full toss [that got Iftikhar, for example] is because of that. Sometimes they don’t get smashed because they get on to you. Of course, when you develop that reputation… when I bowled with Curtly Ambrose, Matthew [Hayden] never put a foot wrong against Curtly because of his reputation, but he’d look to smash me. This guy is a generational bowler.”

Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo