India captain Rohit Sharma hinted at rejigging the pace combination for the second T20 International against Bangladesh on Thursday while defending the batting line-up, with senior opener Shikhar Dhawan has been struggling for some time.
India had a par-score of 148 on a sluggish Kotla track and it was pacer Khaleel Ahmed, who was hit for four boundaries by Mushfiqur Rahim in the 19th over that changed the complexion of the game.
“Our batting looks good. So I don’t think there’s any change we need to make in our batting. But we’ll analyse the pitch, and based on that we’ll see what we can do as a team,” Rohit told reporters at the pre-match interaction.
While he didn’t take names but there is a chance of Shardul Thakur coming in place of Khaleel, whose pace at times is making it easier for the opposition to negotiate at the death overs.
“The (pace-bowling) combination that we played in the last game, it was based on the pitch that was on offer in Delhi. We will see the pitch again today and we will think what we need to do in our bowling line-up,” the skipper said.
Rohit is expecting Rajkot track to play better than the one at Kotla. “The pitch looks good. Rajkot has always been a good track to bat on and it does offer some assistance to the bowlers also. It will be a good pitch. I’m pretty sure it will be better than what you saw in Delhi,” he opined.
While the strategy is a confidential thing, a change in approach is something that the stand-in skipper expects from his mates.
“I cannot tell you strategy but what I can definitely tell you is that there will be changes in our approach. In the last match (in New Delhi), we played according to the pitch. We were playing as per the ways the pitch was reacting.
“But if the pitch here (at Rajkot) is good, our approach will be different as well in both bowling and batting (departments).”
He then cited the reasons why it was difficult to bat on a Delhi track. “We have seen the pitch in Delhi was challenging, the ball was gripping and turning. On such kind of wickets, you never know what is a good score. As far as Rajkot pitch is concerned, there is hope that it will play better than Delhi’s, and thus our approach will be different,” he said.
Asked whether there was pressure on bowlers, Rohit replied, “Pressure is just on the team to perform, as simple as that. Not a particular department. You’ve lost as a team, you’ve not lost as a bowling unit. So the focus will be on the team.”
The skipper expects a collective performance from his team.
“The batsmen need to get the job done, the bowlers need to come out and take those crucial wickets. That will be the idea. We are not focusing on any individual departments. Because we lost as a team, not as individuals,” Rohit said.
For Rohit, it is important that the mistakes committed in the last game are not repeated.
“We were short in a lot of departments. It is important to focus on the mistakes we made and make sure those mistakes are not repeated again. That is the sign of a good team when you don’t repeat mistakes,” he signed off.
T20 format is one to try out emerging players: Rohit
Rohit also said that the T20 cricket was the one where the emerging players can be tried out and he also began with it before moving to ODIs and Tests.
India has achieved less success in T20s as compared to ODIs and Tests. India last won a T20 series on home soil last year against West Indies, but after that, they were beaten by Australia and later drew 1-1 with South Africa.
Even in the ongoing three-match series against Bangladesh, the hosts trail 0-1.
“This is the format where we are trying a lot of players. The key players are not involved (in this series) so we are trying the younger players who are sitting on the fringe. That is one of the reasons because in other formats we have our entire squad playing,” Rohit said when asked why the Indian team was not successful in the T20s as compared to ODIs and Tests.
Rohit emphasised that the team wants to try out different players in the T20 format as “they can express themselves and get ready for ODIs and Tests”.
“This is the format where you can try (new players), and there is no harm in doing that. We have seen a lot of players who have emerged from this format, who have gone on to play ODI and Test formats,” Rohit said on the eve of the second T20 International against Bangladesh here on Thursday.
“We want our bench strength to be as strong as possible. This is probably the reason why you see so many new guys coming into the fray and playing,” he said.
He, however, said that the priority was to win matches.
“Having said that, it does not mean that we have to not win matches. We have to win, that is the first priority. But these guys will learn from it. That is how all of us want, including myself and the other guys who started playing T20 format first and went on to play ODI and Test cricket.
“I think that is how it happens and as I said we just want our bench strength to be very, very strong. This is the format (T20) to try all these guys who are emerging,” he signed off.