Ahead of the first T20I against Bangladesh in New Delhi, Rohit Sharma expressed his views on providing reassurance to the youngsters who are being roped into the Indian camp before next year’s World T20 in Australia. The stand-in captain also advocated the need to change the chop-and-change policy to have a settled middle-order.
As evident from the performance in the World Cup, the lack of quality in the middle order has plagued the Men in Blue in the past, and the 32-year-old believes that they now have a “lot of options” to cure that and not completely rely on the top-order.
“They need to get more games under their belt to be more confident and get the job done. The team, a few years ago, was very much settled so there was not much room for a younger player to come and grab that opportunity,” said Rohit when asked about the youngsters in the team for Bangladesh’s tour.
“There has always been a chop and change between that number 4, 5, 6, and 7 as well. So now, this is the best time for us to try these guys. Shreyas Iyer, Shivam Dube, Manish Pandey, then Rishabh Pant as well. There are a lot of guys who can do the job.”
However, he also acknowledged that the road is tough for the greenhorns, who find it difficult to find a place in this formidable Indian setup.
“When they play for their IPL team it’s different, but when they come here, it is a different ball game. They bat higher for their IPL franchise and that is the challenge in international cricket, you will not get, what you want.”
“You have to earn that position and make sure whatever little opportunities you get, you have to make the most of it.”
Talking about the team for Sunday’s clash at the smog-filled Arun Jaitley Stadium, Rohit expressed his delight at having a variety of talented options before him and hinted at the in-form Shivam Dube’s debut.
“Sanju is one of them. He has been performing quite well in the domestic circuit and IPL, and Shivam is somebody who has come into the ranks last year. He is somebody who has made his mark just before last year’s IPL auction which is why people were so keen to buy him.”
“We will assess now and probably a bit before the game as well. But both (Sanju Samson and Shivam Dube) are definitely in the fray. One of them might definitely play. All doors are open for everyone,” said Rohit at the pre-match press conference.
When asked how important it is to prepare well for the fast T20 format, Rohit, who has led Mumbai Indians to four IPL titles, said he prioritises by putting his players ahead of him.
“You need a lot of strategies and planning in T20s, understanding of the players and what they can offer. How I look at it, is that when you are the captaining the side, you are not such an important person, the other ten are the most important players because you want to get the best out of them,” said Rohit.
“Of course, your performance will matter but I don’t like to consider myself at the forefront. The other players become the forefront. I have to focus on them and give them the freedom to express themselves and that has been the whole talk on how we want to go forward.”
Concluding the press conference in New Delhi, Rohit indicated that the team’s desire to be the best in all three formats is something they have been collectively striving for. India are ranked five in the T20I rankings.
“We need to get that number higher. We want to be at top in all three formats, that has been the standard we have set and there is no reason we can’t achieve that.”