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Journalism of Courage

Rohit Sharma hails SKY & Kohli, backs Harshal & Bhuvneshwar but admits ‘death bowling a concern’, settles DK vs Pant debate

Rohit Sharma hints the Dinesh Karthik is likely to get a longer rope in the team after India's 2-1 series win over Australia.

Indian batters Suryakumar Yadav and Virat Kohli during the third T20 cricket match, Bhuvneshwar Kumar celebrates with teammates the dismissal of Australia's Cameron Green; Dinesh Karthik reacts as Australia's Glenn Maxwell is run-out. (AP | PTI)

India captain Rohit Sharma had all praise for ‘special’ Suryakumar Yadav and Virat Kohli, backed Harshal Patel, who is making a comeback from injury, is hopeful that Bhuvnehwar Kumar will find his groove soon, but at the same time admitted that death bowling remains an area of concern for the team going into T20 World Cup.

Suryakumar Yadav’s rapid half-century led India to a six-wicket win over Australia with one ball remaining in the decider for a 2-1 series victory. Yadav smacked 69 off 36 balls and put on 104 runs with Virat Kohli off 62 deliveries as India scored 187-4 in 19.5 overs. Kohli hit a 48-ball 63.

Excerpts from Rohit Sharma’s post-match press conference

On the series

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Indian players share a laugh during the presentation ceremony after India won the third T20 cricket match against Australia, in Hyderabad. (AP)

We got whatever we wanted from the series. We ticked a lot of boxes. Yes, there will be some areas that we need to improve. Overall, it was a good series for us. We want to tighten in all departments. Our batting has been brilliant in the last eight or nine games. We still want to be more aggressive and more clinical and continue to play with that aggression. Bowling is a concern. And fielding is one aspect we need to improve as well.

On Suryakumar Yadav

Indian batter Suryakumar Yadav plays a shot during the third T20 cricket match between India and Australia, at Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Hyderabad. (PTI)

When it comes to Surya, we all know the quality. He can play shots all over the ground. That is what makes him special. he has been very consistent with the bat. He has played some impactful knocks for us. He has taken his game a notch higher, which is a good sign. He has raised the level of his skill sets. He seems to be getting better and better every time he plays. Today was an exceptional inning. To come out and play the innings, he played. We were two down in the powerplay, and to take the game away literally was a fantastic effort.

On Virat Kohli

India’s Virat Kohli walks off after receiving the ‘energetic player of the series’ award after India won the third T20 cricket match against Australia, in Hyderabad, India. (PTI)

Not to forget Virat on the other side as well; what a crucial knock. The 104-run partnership between Surya and Virat was key for us. The pressure was on, chasing 180 plus and then losing two wickets early, it was not easy, but they kept backing themselves.

On Harshal Patel

India’s Harshal Patel bowls during a practice session. (AP)

He is an important player for us. Coming back after an injury is never easy. He missed cricket for close to two months. Whenever bowler goes through that injury phase, and they have to come back, it’s not easy. We’ve not really judged him for how he has performed in these three games because we know his quality. He has bowled some really tough overs in the past and also for his franchise (Royal Challenger Bangalore). It’s important to keep showing that faith. He is also trying to rectify his mistakes. He is working hard on his bowling, as I see in the nets. He is not too far from his best.

On Bhuvneshwar Kumar

India’s Bhuvneshwar Kumar celebrates with teammates the wicket of Australian batter Cameron Green during the third T20 cricket match between India and Australia, at Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Hyderabad. (PTI)

With Bhuvi, it’s important that we give him that space. Honestly speaking, in the last so many years, he has had more good days than bad days. Off late, his performance was not what he wanted. But that can happen to any bowlers. It is not easy to bowl at death. We have been working on some plans, and hopefully, we will give him more options to bowl in the death and then he’ll be as good as he was before. I have spoken to him personally, and he is not short of confidence; I can clearly see it is there. As a team, we believe in his ability. He has done the job for us in the past, and a few bad games don’t change the fact the kind of quality he possesses as a bowler.

Pant vs DK debate

Australian players congratulate Indian players Hardik Pandya and Dinesh Karthik after India won the third T20 cricket match between India and Australia, at Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Hyderabad. (PTI)

I wanted both of these guys to have a number of games under their belt before the World Cup. In the Asia Cup, both of them were in the fray to play all games. I just feel that Dinesh needs a little more game time so does Pant, but looking at how this series went, it was important for me to stick to one batting line-up. I don’t know what we are going to do against South Africa. We will first see their bowling lineup. If the situation demands that we need a left-hander, we will bring Pant, and if we need a right-hander, then we will play Dinesh. I feel Dinesh hardly got to bat in this series, just three balls; that’s not enough time. We are trying to manage these two carefully. In the end, you can only pick XI players.

First published on: 26-09-2022 at 09:31:12 am
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