India captain Rohit Sharma said that given bowlers Harshal Patel and Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s match-winning performances in the past, it was time the team management showed faith and backed the duo to come back to form.

Speaking after India won the third T20 International against Australia in Hyderabad to clinch the series 2-1, Rohit said that Harshal and Bhuvneshwar, both returning after spells away from the team, need to be backed despite their recent travails.

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In the three matches, Harshal picked up just one wicket in eight overs while conceding 99 runs. Bhuvneshwar, who only played two matches, got one wicket in seven overs while giving away 91 runs.

Rohit also elaborated on the team management’s plans revolving around wicket keepers Dinesh Karthik and Rishabh Pant while also praising star batter Suryakumar Yadav, who has been in imperious form.

Here’s what Rohit Sharma had to say in the post-match press conference on Sunday:

On goals achieved in the series...

“We got whatever we wanted from the series. We ticked a lot of boxes. There will be some areas that we need to improve, but overall I think it was a good series for us, we got to learn a lot.”

On Harshal Patel’s return from injury...

“He’s an important player for us. I’ve been talking about how coming back after an injury is never easy. He missed cricket for close to two months. Whenever a bowler goes through that injury phase and they have to come back, it’s not easy. We’ve not really judged him on how he has performed in these three games because we know his quality, what he can do. He’s bowled some really tough overs for us in the past, and also for his franchise. We believe in his quality, whatever he has as a bowler. 

“It’s important to keep showing that faith and I’m pretty sure that he’s trying to rectify those mistakes. And he’s working hard on his bowling, as I see in the nets when we do have our training sessions. He’s always working on his skills. Which is what we want. We want players to go out there and keep improving, we talk about it all the time. We can see that happening. I’m pretty sure that he’s not too far from his best.”

On Suryakumar Yadav’s form...

“When it comes to Surya, I think we all know the quality that he has. He can play shots all over the ground. And that is what makes him special. He’s been very consistent with the bat every time he’s gotten an opportunity. He’s been an impactful player for us. Every time I see him, he has taken his game one notch higher which is a good sign as a player whenever you see that, you can raise the level of your skills, of what the team expects from you, it’s always a good sign and I can see that in Surya. 

“Every game that he plays, he seems to be getting better and better every time he plays. And today was an exceptional innings, to come out and play the innings that he played. We were two down in the powerplay and to take the game away, literally, from the opposition, was a fantastic effort. Not to forget Virat on the other side as well got a crucial, crucial 100 runs partnership. 

“From the team’s perspective, it was a good sign. It was great for us to get that kind of batsmanship from those two guys in the middle. The pressure was definitely on when you are chasing anything over 180. It’s not easy. Especially after losing two wickets but they kept their calm, they kept backing themselves to play the shots. It was good to watch it from the outside as well.”

On Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s bowling...

“With Bhuvi, it’s important that we give him that space because when you have a guy like him in the team and the quality that he brings, we know that he’s had more good days than bad days in the last so many years. Yes, of late, it’s not been the kind of performances that he would want but that can happen to any of the bowlers. You can see the opposition as well, it’s not easy to bowl at the death. But yeah we’ve been working on some execution plans and hopefully we can give him more options to bowl in the death. And then he’ll be as good as he was before. 

“And I don’t see him short of confidence whenever I see speak with him, the confidence is there. It’s just that you can have bad games but it’s important how you come back from that and we want him to come back as quickly as possible. Because he has bowled those difficult overs for us in the past. So he has done it, it’s there in his mind. It’s not that he’ll completely forget what he has done as a bowler in the past. It’s just that he needs to bring that out and things will happen for him. 

“As a team, as a management, we believe in his ability and we know that a guy like him, who has more often than not done the job for us in the past, can have a few bad games. But it doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have that quality anymore. He definitely has it in him. It’s just that for us, now it’s time to show faith in him and keep backing his skillset, keep backing what he wants to execute and what he wants to do. 

“From our side, yes we are trying to work out what are the other things we can do because when you are bowling in the death, you can’t be predictable, you need to have options to bowl on our both sides of the ground and set the field accordingly. So those are the things we are talking to him and someone with that experience, it will be easy for him to grasp all that knowledge that is out there.”

On areas the team needs to work on...

“Honestly, we want to tighten all departments. I know our batting has been brilliant in the last eight or nine games since we’ve played the Asia Cup. But we still want us to be more clinical, more aggressive and play with that aggression. We want to keep doing that and I don’t find any fault in that. 

“Bowling, yes of course, we have our eyes on a thing or two on what we need to do as a bowling unit. That’s mainly it. Obviously fielding is one aspect we want to keep improving on all the time. Bowling is something we have a lot more focus on than the batting at the moment. Those two guys who are part of the team right now, including Axar as well, actually three guys who have not played cricket a lot in the past are playing now. 

“So you’ve got to give some time now to them and get them back as quickly as possible. It’s just about getting that confidence back and with the kind of individuals they are, I don’t think it will be too long.”

On managing Dinesh Karthik and Rishabh Pant’s game time...

“I honestly wanted both of these guys to have a number of games under their belt before the WC. When we went to the Asia Cup, both of these guys were in the fray to play all games or whenever there was an opportunity or if there was a tactical match-up, we can bring in those guys. But I just feel that Dinesh needs a bit more game time. So does Pant. Honestly speaking, Pant needs some game time as well. But looking at how this series was, it was important to just stick to that consistent batting line up. 

“I don’t know what we’re gonna do against South Africa. We just need to go and see what kind of bowling line-up they will play with and see who can handle that bowling line-up. So it all depends on that. We said that we want to be flexible with our batting. So if the situation demands that we need a left-hander, we will bring in a left-hander. If we need a right-hander, we will continue to do that.

“But I still feel Dinesh in this series hardly got to bat maybe just three balls. So that’s not enough time but we’ll try and manage those guys pretty carefully. I do understand that they need game time before the World Cup but there’s only 11 players who can play unfortunately. So we just have to look after everyone.”