India’s batting coach Vikram Rathour on Tuesday said that the team is not looking at run rate calculations ahead the must-win match against Afghanistan at the T20 World Cup on Wednesday.

A 10-wicket loss to arch-rivals Pakistan followed by an equally sobering eight-wicket defeat to New Zealand has left Virat Kohli’s side without a point after two games. Pakistan lead the group with six points while Afghanistan already have four.

Worryingly for India is that their run-rate is also in the debit column. But speaking to the media ahead of the match, Rathour said that the team is looking to first win their remaining games.

“We won’t be good at maths anyways being cricketers,” said India batting coach Vikram Rathour when asked if the coaching staff were already working on a statistical rescue act.

“So I think at this time, the focus is to play good cricket, to win games, to win the remaining three games.

“I think this calculation comes into the picture, come into focus when we get to the last game and when the other results are out.”

Rathour also weighed in on what is going wrong with Indian batting and confirmed he will be reapplying for the post of India’s batting coach. He is the only one from the current support staff, who is looking on a second stint as head coach Ravi Shastri, bowling coach Bharath Arun and fielding coach R Sridhar will not be reapplying.

He took over as the India batting coach from former India batsman Sanjay Bangar in 2019 and his appointment was till the end of the 2021 T20 World Cup. Under Rathour as the batting coach, India won a historic Test series in Australia and also thrashed England on their home soil earlier this year.

From a coaching staff perspective, would you say that IPL is an ideal preparation going into a World Cup as such?

Any preparation is good preparation, I think. IPL does provide you with the platform where you play against or compete against top cricketers around the world.

Yes, it’s definitely a great platform to practise. I don’t see an issue there with us getting into the World Cup after playing IPL. I thought the players got loads of games, they could work on their games. But whether that work – what happened in the past two games is that we were not really able to execute our plans the way we wanted to and that has been our issue and not the preparation, I think.

The Indian batsmen all of a sudden are not able to produce the big hits that they were able to do preceding this World T20, and also they’re struggling against the New Zealand, not able to force the issue force the issue or the pace. As a result we were only able to score 145 and 110 in the two matches. As a batting coach, what do you attribute this to? Is it the pitches, or are the batsmen not being adventurous enough or are they not able to produce the kind of shots. What exactly is going wrong?

One of the factors, definitely the pitch. I think when bat first on these surfaces, even though it doesn’t look very uneven or any such thing, but there is variation in pace and bounce.

So strike rotation is an issue. It’s not only with our team. I think every team this has been an issue.

Unfortunately, I agree with you, the big shots we were not able to execute well. So that will happen once in a while in a game. And I think unfortunately that happened with us in the last game, that nobody really was able to execute the big innings that they were trying to play. But as such, I think it’s more to do with the surface that we’ve been playing on.

You have been with team for two years. There has been highs and there’s been lows. Like how do you sum up this journey of yours with the team for two years? And what’s your plan going into the future after the World Cup? Because we all know that Ravi, Buritsa, Cesar [phonetic], they’re all moving on. What’s your plan, if you could tell us a bit, would you like to continue? What’s in your mind?

I thought this press conference was for the World Cup. But anyways I can answer this question. So the experience has been great. It’s been a great learning experience. It’s great to work with a team of such highly motivated and skillful players. It’s been a good experience.

Going forward, I’ve already applied for my batting coach’s job. And if I get that job, a lot of work to be done. We’ll take it as it goes.

Generally we’ve seen over time that for every starter in the Indian batting lineup we’ve had backups. Do you feel somewhere going into this tournament not having a finisher apart from Hardik was maybe something that may not have worked in our favour?

I don’t agree. I think we have Yuzvendra in the team as well who I think is a fabulous finisher. Players like Sury, players like Virat who have done really well for us in batting, and we have enough players who can do the job. And they have done it in the past.

So I don’t see that as an issue. Of course when you’re picking a team for the World Cup, you have a slight restriction where you can only pick a team. That’s the way it is and that’s what you have to play with.

But I think we have enough in our batting. Unfortunately, as I said earlier, we were not able to execute our plans, what we wanted to do but we’re capable of doing. But don’t see it as an issue. But we have lots of players there.

When you took over as a batting coach two years ago, you spoke about playing fearless T20 cricket, that we need to go hard from the beginning until the end. But that’s not been happening over the past few matches also. And even the last England series we had played before the IPL in March, that was a problem. And extension to that previous question, also, is are there too many players who are playing in the top four in the IPL so they’re not accustomed to bat at No. 6 or 7 or go for the big hits; there are less players who can go from ball one in the back end of the innings? Because when you see most of these players are batting in the top four in the IPL.

I think that will happen with any team. Any international team will go through that. When you’re playing for your states or for your country team, we always tend to bat in top form. But in India, when you get to the India team, there’s of course a batting order and you need to bat maybe at a different number.

But being a professional cricketer, I think you should be accustomed to do that. You should be able to be with these kind of situations.

We’ve done that in the past. I’m surprised when you’re saying that we haven’t done well coming into the World Cup. I thought we were one of the better teams for the past two years in T20 format. We’ve virtually won every series that we’ve played.

So the last two games, yes, it hasn’t gone our way. But as I said earlier, that might happen. That is what this game is all about.

Were you particularly disappointed with the middle over strength in the game against New Zealand and where the spinners were able to squeeze the runs? And looking ahead with the next match, will the team be easing the run rate (indiscernible)?

VIKRAM RATHOUR: Can you repeat your question?

My first question was, were you particularly disappointed with the way the mid overs went against New Zealand where the previous spinners were able to sort of squeeze the runs? And the next question is on the upcoming game, whether the team would be chasing the run rate or will you be looking for a win.

We need to win first before we get into the run rate part of the equation.

Your first question, it’s not about me being disappointed. I think the players were disappointed the way the game went.

But as I said earlier, this surface, it’s difficult to rotate the strike because the pace and bounces are slightly variable.

Again, I’m not saying it’s not only our team. I think every team who has batted first on these surfaces have struggled to do that.

So again, if you want to be a champion team, if you want to be a team which wins the World Cup, you should be able to be in these situations. You should be able to play in these conditions as well. That’s what I think our focus is from now onwards. We still need to find ways to score runs and strike against the spinner, and every batter will have a different way of doing that. So they need to find their own strengths and back those strengths.

Rohit has played over a hundred matches. What is constant pick before he was sent one the match against New Zealand? And whose decision, who took the call, who initiated the idea of sending Ishan Kishan with (indiscernible)?

VIKRAM RATHOUR: So how things went was is Sury was having some back spasm the previous night. So he was not fit enough to be able to play. And so the person coming in was of course Ishan and Ishan has done really well as an opener in IPL and in past India team as well.

About who took that call, I think it’s the whole management who sits together and takes the call. And of course Rohit is part of that group. So he was part of that group and that discussion. And it was discussed, which tactically it made sense having an attack approach. And we didn’t want too many left-handers in the left middle order with Ishan and (indiscernible) protecting. It made sense.

And that guy has batted at the top of the order. That is why the decision was made.

I know a lot of the followers and lovers of the game are sitting with their calculator out. Is the India cricket team management and captain sitting out with his calculator out as well?

Not really. We won’t be good at math anyways being cricketers. So I think at this time, at this moment, the focus is to play good cricket, to win games, to win the remaining three games.

I think this calculation has come into the picture, come into focus when we get to the last game and when the other results are out.

So at this moment, no, there’s no focus on calculating any of the run rate or anything. We’re just looking to play well sort out the issues and get into the game and win the game.

Indian bowlers have taken just two wickets in two matches. Of course it’s related to bowling. But from the management’s point of view that must be disappointing, and where do you think they have gone wrong or they fell short?

A few factors involved. Of course, execution could be better. Definitely. Could have bowled better. Secondly, I think the wicket definitely is up when you’re bowling second.

And thirdly, I think we didn’t really put up enough runs on the ball to create that pressure. Once you’re looking to defend only 110, it gets easier for the team batting second.

So I wouldn’t put too much into that. So of course, as I said, the execution can be better and we can definitely improve in the area that we’re bowling. If you can execute to plan that we are planning, we’re having lots of bowlers meetings that you have, that you plan against every batter. So those can be definitely executed better than what we’ve done.

Is there a possibility that we can see a leg spinner or another spinner in the Indian 11 considering the Abu Dhabi ground is a bigger one? And every country is doing so well, especially their leg spinners are doing so well, and with India unfortunately cannot play a leg spinner in the 11?

I think all 11 are available for selection and we haven’t really sat down yet to discuss the 11 for tomorrow’s game.

But as I said, all 15 are in the focus and anybody can perform depending on what the pace and the conditions are going to be. So I won’t rule anybody out at this stage.

Wanted to know a bit about Afghanistan team. We know that they are pretty good in the shortest format of the game and have played some great cricket. Where do you think the threat lies when it comes to Afghanistan’s team?

Of course they’re a good team and they have done well. So I think the challenge will be their spinners. And if we can bat to our potential, as I said earlier, we have a tremendous really skillful set of players with us who have done well in past.

So if we play to our potential, I think we should be okay.

Transcript courtesy: ICC Business Corporation FZ LLC 2020 via Online Media Zone.

With AFP and ICC inputs