KOLKATA: New Zealand might not have been in their elements coming into the series, as Rahul Dravid said, since it started just three days after the World Cup final. Their most important player and usual captain, Kane Williamson, decided to sit out. Yet, captain Rohit Sharma will be mighty pleased with the way some of his players stood up to be counted as India prevailed in all three T20I matches.
After India’s 73-run win at the Eden Gardens, Rohit said the biggest positive for him was the bowling. “We came back really well in the first two matches after strong starts by New Zealand. To restrict such a strong New Zealand batting line-up in the 160s is really good,” he said.
The opener also marked out a few for special mention, like Ravichandran Ashwin. “When you have someone like him, it always gives you the opportunity to take wickets in the middle and we understand how important that phase is,” Rohit said about the off-spinner. “In the middle overs you need to put the brakes on the scoring rate and also keep taking wickets. Ashwin did that, and also Axar (Patel).”
The emergence of Venkatesh Iyer has also been a huge positive for India. Here is a batsman who can also bowl and that is something Rohit felt will be good for India. “We will try to keep him in the mix as long as we can and give him a role. He looked quite calm and composed as long as he was out there. And he can bowl also. He is quite skillful. We have to give him confidence,” Rohit said about the new find.
A new crop of players – Venkatesh Iyer, Harshal Patel, Deepak Chahar – made their mark in India’s 3-0 hammering of New Zealand in the T20 series. It is good news that all three possess more than one cricket skill. The next World Cup is just a year away. These players should be groomed and tested in more trying situations to evaluate their ability to handle big-match pressure, something lacking in some of the more senior players.
Of course, if the top five bowlers are doing their job, he would not be thinking much about the other options at his disposal. Yet as Rohit indicated, it helps to have these options. “Among our top five batters, Suryakumar Yadav and Shreyas Iyer are the only ones who can bowl a bit. They are not regular, but they have the ability and that gives the captain a cushion,” he said.
A similar aspect also comes in batting, with Harshal Patel and Deepak Chahar making healthy contributions lower down the order. Harshal is another positive and his batting comes as a bonus.
Bowling apart, fielding is an area that Rohit considers a big takeaway. “We saved at least 15 runs each in Jaipur and Ranchi. Here (at Eden) we effected two run outs. We have been very good on the field in this series,” he said.