Virat Kohli’s childhood coach, Rajkumar Sharma, has said no one can replace Kohli at the No. 3 position but acknowledged he needed to develop younger players to eventually perform the duty.
Kohli struggled and was dismissed through the 2022 IPL campaign. The former India captain made only 341 runs in 16 matches before falling one step short of advancing to the final. He later scored only 76 runs across six innings across three formats on the tour of England.
“It is important. See, I don't think anyone can replace Virat Kohli at no.3 for some time, but we will have to develop youngsters at that position. And I think there will be many experiments on that position too. It isn't necessary that only Shreyas Iyer takes over that role,” Sharma said.
"He is a suspect against genuine fast bowling sometimes, especially against short-pitched deliveries. He has been dismissed on many occasions playing the short delivery in the past. I think his best position would be no.4 or no.5."
Shreyas Iyer has replaced Kohli at no. 3 in the ongoing ODI series against West Indies while senior players such as Rohit Sharma and Rishabh Pant are rested.
Iyer scored 401 runs in IPL for Kolkata Knight Riders and two half-centuries within the first two ODI matches in the ongoing West Indies tour. He also performed a 28-run knock against England in the first T20I match earlier this month. Iyer is rumoured to be the first candidate to replace Kohli in the upcoming World Cup.
"He accelerates really well, he paces his innings well. By the time he arrives in either of those positions, the ball wouldn't be moving much and it is a high possibility he won't be targeted straightaway. So, I think he can be a better batsman," Sharma continued.
Other potential players to replace Kohli
According to Tanya Trivadi from TFIPost, some other players can fill in to replace Kohli in the No. 3 position. They include Ruturaj Gaikwad, Shubman Gill, Suryakumar Yadav, and Sanju Samson.
The 25-year-old Gaikwad made his international debut in July 2021 and was the highest run scorer in IPL of the same year. Currently, he is included in India’s ODI team for the series against West Indies. Back in June, he scored his first T20I fifty against South Africa.
Meanwhile, Gill is a right-handed opener for Punjab in domestic cricket. According to Trivadi, he is one of the most promising and best players in the Indian team who can replace Kohli. He received praises from veteran leaders after being named the Emerging Player of the Tournament in IPL 2019.
Yadav plays for India in the ODI and T20 International formats. He is a top scorer for Mumbai with 73 runs and the only player to score a half-century in Mumbai’s first innings. He was named to Team India during the T20I series against Ireland in June 2022. During the match against England in July 2022, Yadav was one of the five Indians to score a century in T20 Internationals. He scored 117 runs in 55 balls in the match.
Lastly, Sanju is a right-handed batsman and wicketkeeper. In 2014, he was selected for India’s 17-man team to play in 5 ODIs and one T20I against England. He was also selected for the West Indies tour.