Irfan Pathan has stated Virat Kohli needs to fire in the Asia Cup at all costs in order to ensure he goes into the World T20 in the best possible shape, or else India should replace him with an in-form player. He however backed the talisman to perform, highlighting his exemplary record in Australia.
The Virat Kohli saga seems to be slowly but gradually coming to a head as and when marquee events get closer. The former Indian skipper will next be in action at the Asia Cup beginning August 27, having sat out the recent tours of the Caribbean and Zimbabwe. Kohli had last clad the Indian colours on the tour of England, where a dismal run of form saw him come back with an average of sub-15 from six innings across all formats. Now, it seems he has to perform well in the upcoming tournament and end his runs drought just in time before the World T20 gets underway in October.
Irfan Pathan has indicated the talisman usually thrives Down Under, with an average of 59.83 in T20Is in the island nation, therefore being key to India's plan for the ICC event.
“As far as the mind is concerned, what Virat Kohli will be thinking, what kind of mindset he will be coming in with and playing the matches, I think yes, Asia Cup is very, very important but when I look forward to the World Cup, where the pitches will be very, very good in Australia, which he likes, he thrives on Australian pitches, he's done really well,” he said on Star Sports' show 'Gameplan'.
"So Indian team needs Virat Kohli in top form. He comes back from Asia Cup in top form, I think it's a win-win situation for Virat Kohli and the Indian team."
However, should Kohli fail in his next challenge, the question remains whether the Men in Blue continue to back him or look some other way. At the moment, the side has a plethora of reserves to pick from, with the likes of Deepak Hooda, Ishan Kishan and Shreyas Iyer all emerging from the ranks with consistent performances on the international stage. As far as Pathan is concerned, the choice is pretty straihgtforward for Rahul Dravid and co.
"Indian team has so many options, they need to choose from the options. Because you need someone going into the World Cup in good form. You cannot not have form in the World Cup. You can't find form in the World Cup," the former all-rounder stated.