Batting order shake-up a must for versatility, says Virat Kohli

The India captain is of the belief that flexibility in batting line-up is the key to finding the right balance in the team.

Kohli has thrown his weight behind K.L. Rahul and Ajinkya Rahane ahead of India's series opener against Australia in Chennai on Sunday.   -  RAJANISH KAKADE

Virat Kohli has always been open to experiments. Be it choosing his squad for a game or deciding bowling and batting slots, the India skipper has never shied away from taking risks.

As the 5-ODI series against Australia gets underway at Chennai's M.A. Chidambaram stadium, Kohli has decided to rejig his batting order - With regular opener Shikhar Dhawan missing in action from the first three ODIs, Mumbai batsman Ajinkya Rahane is all set to occupy his position after starting at No.4, while K.L. Rahul will bat down the order after starting as an opener.

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Kohli has a reason behind this. “I think, if you look to bat in the position that you bat in one format, or in all the formats, then it can get very difficult for the team to find the right kind of balance including that player,” promptly adding: “I think players need to adapt to what the team requirement is more often.”

The 28-year-old spoke about opening the innings in Twenty20. “So I would do that (open in Twenty20) any day if there is a guy in the middle order who is going to strengthen the side. So I should be flexible enough to do that.

"I think it’s up to the player to get versatile in a manner that he can take up different positions - what the team requires him to do,” Kohli says.

But then the captain admits it takes time.

“I am not saying it is easy. If you see Jinks (Rahane) – he has played in the middle order in the ODIs, he plays in the middle order in Test matches. He's also opened a lot in ODIs as well.

"He also felt that he found it difficult to switch. Now we're backing Jinks at the top of the order. So he knows his plans are clear,” he says.

Kohli, however, also admits that in order to ensure a player is well settled at a slot, it is important to give him more confidence. That is something both him and head-coach Ravi Shastri have been doing for a while.

“Once you get that balance with giving that player more chances, then he gets more confident of his role in the team.

"Till then obviously, Manish (Pandey) and Kedar (Jadhav) are there as well. So there'll always be competition for a particular spot. K.L. is an outstanding talent. He's proved himself in all formats,” he says, adding: “He is someone that needs to be backed. Because we believe that he has the ability. Once he gets his role done, he'll start winning us games. We're very sure of that.”

With the skipper throwing his weight behind them, both Rahul and Rahane would be hoping to deliver the goods in the upcoming series.