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Shastri: Kohli should 'play the sweep with freedom' to make it tougher for spinners

Unlike in international cricket, batters are sure to face a lot of spin in the IPL, making it a crucial shot, the former India coach says

It's great that Virat Kohli is using his feet against the spinners, but he must start playing the sweep more often, and "with freedom", to make it tougher for the opposition, Ravi Shastri has said.
"The thing I liked most about Virat was his fluency [in the 29-ball 41* against Punjab Kings]," Shastri said on ESPNcricinfo's T20 Time Out ahead of Wednesday's game between Royal Challengers Bangalore and Kolkata Knight Riders. "He was prepared to use his feet against the spinners. Now he has to bring out the sweep. It's a very important shot. He doesn't play it much, but he should, with freedom.
"The four days you get in the nets [between matches], he should get rid of Raghu [D Raghavendra, the throwdown specialist], and the fast bowlers - he has played them a lot in the last one-and-a-half to two years. Get a spinner and keep playing the sweep. Because if he uses his feet and starts to play the sweep, any spinner will think twice, thrice about what to bowl."
Shastri, as head coach of the Indian team for four-and-a-half years up to November 2021, worked closely with Kohli, who was India's all-format captain through the tenure. He explained that though Kohli did play the shot in the nets, he didn't need to employ it too much in international cricket since the numbers of spinners in operation are usually fewer than is the case in the IPL.
"He does play the shot at training. But this [IPL] is the sort of tournament where he can practice it with some conviction, because he has to play the shot," Shastri said. "It's not like you are playing it in the nets and you won't get a chance to play it [in a game], in Australia or England. So there is no point. Maybe against Nathan Lyon, but he won't get to face much spin there, it's mainly fast bowlers.
"Maybe the sweep in front of square will be tricky, but the paddle sweep or the reverse paddle sweep can be played. Because both of them bowl quick, so he should use their pace"
Shastri, on Kohli employing the sweep against Narine and Chakravarthy
"But here, he will definitely get to face a lot of spin. We will move into May soon, it will be quite hot, the pitches will get drier. The sweep will become a very important shot. Play at least one. It's such a shot that if a batter can play it, the spinner won't know where to pitch the ball. Because the range of the shot is from in front of square leg to short fine-leg.
"There is a process - how much back lift should be there, how to use the pace of the ball, what the position of the feet should be if you want to hit it along the ground… it's important to practice it, and it's important to get the position of the feet right."
Against Punjab Kings, a game Royal Challengers lost by five wickets with one over to spare despite putting up 205 for 2, Kohli had to face Rahul Chahar and Harpreet Brar, in the main, but against Knight Riders, there will be the two-pronged threat of Sunil Narine and Varun Chakravarthy.
"If he uses his feet, the bowlers will start thinking, then he can play it," Shastri said of playing a shot Kohli doesn't play much against such quality spinners. "Maybe the sweep in front of square will be tricky, but the paddle sweep or the reverse paddle sweep can be played. Because both of them bowl quick, so he should use their pace."