India vice-captain Rohit Sharma on Saturday said it is still too early to finalise the team’s batting line-up for the T20 World Cup at home later this year and skipper Virat Kohli opening alongside him in the series decider against England was only a tactical move.
Before Rohit’s media interaction, Kohli said that he will open in the upcoming Indian Premier League and he would want to open with Rohit going into the T20 World Cup.
“It is long time to go for the (T20) World Cup, so early days to talk about how our batting will look like. We have to sit and analyse what suits the team the most,” said Rohit after the series win.
Kohli was promoted up the order to partner Rohit Sharma for the first time in the shortest format and the move proved key as they put on a blazing stand of 94 to lay the foundation of India’s 224/2, their highest T20 score against England.
Sharma blasted 64 before departing and Kohli, who started cautiously, finished with a flourish in his 52-ball knock in Ahmedabad.
“I am going to open in the IPL as well,” said Kohli, who captains Royal Challengers Bangalore in the Indian Premier League, after India’s 36-run win on Saturday gave them a 3-2 series victory.
“Look I have batted at different positions, but I feel we do have a very solid middle-order now. And now it’s about your two best players getting maximum number of balls in T20 cricket. So I would definitely like to partner Rohit at the top.”
Before the series, Kohli had said that Rohit and Rahul were India’s first-choice opening pair. But India replaced an out-of-form Rahul with pacer T Natarajan for the series decider,
“We do understand his (Rahul’s) ability and his contribution at the top, what he’s done for us. So, yeah, I’m not going to rule out anything or neither will I say that this is the preferred batting lineup for a World Cup,” said Rohit.
“There is still a good amount of time left with IPL in between. And then, I’m hearing, there will be few T20s as well before the (T20) World Cup. So, you know, good enough time for us, at that point in time to judge what will be the best possible eleven for us,” he added.
Though Kohli said after the series win that the World Cup squad is more or less sorted, Rohit felt the management is flexible on that front.
On Kohli opening with him regularly, he added: “It was good for us to win this game with that batting order. But again, everything will depend on what the captain is thinking at that particular time.
“I’m sure we need to sit and analyze and recollect our thoughts and think about what will be the right thing to do for the team. And if it means he has to open with me so be it.
“The combination, getting the right players in as somebody who’s in good form, giving him an opportunity. Those are the things that really matter, and I think we’ll be focusing on that come the World Cup. We just finished the T20series, so I don’t think Virat will open in the ODI series.”
A big plus for India was the successful return of pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar from injury. He tilted the decider in India’s favour by removing the dangerous Jos Buttler.
“See Bhuvi has been here for long enough, and he’s done really, really well for us in the shorter formats. So yeah, he still remains one of our leading bowlers, and obviously, in this particular lineup, he is our leading bowler,” said Rohit.
“We do understand that we need to put the responsibility on him a lot more come the crucial overs. And he’s done that and he has accepted that responsibility pretty well, bowl the crucial overs towards the start and then towards the back end, which we thought was not easy at all, considering how much amount of dew was on the field.
“And that is what someone like Bhuvi has done over the years for us.”
India got the much-needed X-factor in their batting line-up with the emergence of Ishan Kishan and Suryakumar Yadav. Shardul Thakur also enhanced his reputation of a wicket-taking bowler.
“He’s a wicket-taking bowler as simple as that. Last two games, we saw he was under pressure bowling to the highest quality of batting lineup. So I think he responded to that pressure really well,” Rohit said of Shardul.
On his Mumbai Indians teammates Kishan, he added: “When we talk about his cricketing skills he’s improved immensely from last year’s IPL to now, his short-hitting ability has definitely been more aggressive.
“The change I’’ve noticed in him is that he’’s started to understand the game a lot better. Not to forget, he captains his limited overs team for Jharkhand. So obviously, he’s reading the game.
“And you know, someone like him, Surya, and those guys, you got to give them the freedom, just go and express yourself because at the end of the day, they’re doing it for the team’s cause. And the team management likes that.”
With PTI and AFP Inputs