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News

Vettori: 'The focus is not just on Kohli to do the job' with du Plessis as his opening partner

"Kohli is central to many of their batting plans as they go later and deeper in the tournament," says Ian Bishop

Virat Kohli has been moved to the opening slot by Royal Challengers Bangalore, at least for the Tuesday-night game against Rajasthan Royals. He will open alongside captain Faf du Plessis. And Daniel Vettori, head coach to captain Kohli at the franchise between 2014 and 2018, expects the plan to work, saying that the two "are equals", and that might free Kohli up to get back among the runs.
"I think Virat's a contemporary [of du Plessis], and someone who is probably on the same level as him," Vettori said on ESPNcricinfo's T20 Time Out. "[With du Plessis as his partner], the focus is not just on Kohli to do the job, and possibly at times he has felt like that - that he has to be the be-all and end-all in that opening partnership. But I think they are equals.
"Faf's record is amazing - he's captain, [and] the predominant leader - so those two coming together with that mutual respect will take that pressure off Kohli, and hopefully we'll see him at his aggressive best. Because that's what everyone wants to see - him be aggressive because that's when he is at his best."
Kohli was slotted in at No. 3 in all his eight innings this IPL season, and scored just 119 runs at an average of 17. This, despite scoring 41* to start off the tournament, against Punjab Kings, as well as getting 48 against Mumbai Indians. Four out of his seven dismissals have been in single digits, with back-to-back golden ducks in his last two innings.
"I am hoping he can make a better fist of it; because if he can't make a fist of this, they're in real, real trouble," Ian Bishop said on the same programme, "because Kohli is central to many of their batting plans as they go later and deeper in the tournament. So they need him in the team, and need him in form."
Kohli opened for Royal Challengers in all 15 innings last season, and his 405 runs came at an average of just under 29 - a stark contrast to him accumulating 973 runs as opener in 2016, including bashing four centuries and striking at 152.