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Didn't want too many left-handers in middle-order, Rathour backs decision to send Ishan at top

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Abu Dhabi, Nov 2 (IANS) India’s batting coach Vikram Rathore on Tuesday revealed that the decision to have Ishan Kishan open the batting in the match against New Zealand was taken to avoid a left-hander heavy middle-order.

India’s reshuffle of their batting order against New Zealand became a major talking point after the side suffered a second successive defeat at the T20 World Cup on Sunday. A back spasm to Suryakumar Yadav prompted the Virat Kohli and Ravi Shastri-led team management to bring in Ishan Kishan, who was promoted to open alongside KL Rahul, with Rohit Sharma dropping down to No 3.

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But, the move didn’t pay off as Kishan holed out for four off eight balls, while Rohit managed a run-a-ball 14 before falling to Ish Sodhi. Many former cricketers and experts have criticised the team management for demoting Rohit, however, the Indian batting coach feels it tactically made sense.

“How things went was that Surya was having some back spasm the previous night. So, he was not fit enough to be in the playing XI. So, the person coming in was of course Ishan. And Ishan has done really well as an opener in IPL and in the past for the Indian team as well. And about who takes the call — it was the whole management who sits together and takes this call and of course, Rohit is part of that group,” explained Rathour.

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“So, Rohit was of course part of that discussion, which tactically made sense having a left-hander upfront because we didn’t want too many left-handers in the late middle order with Ishan, Pant, and Jadeja. So, tactically it made sense and that guy has batted well at the top of the order,” he added.

New Zealand applied the spin choke and Indian batters struggled to find the boundary so much that Kohli’s side went 71 balls between the sixth and the 17th overs without finding the fence. They managed just two sixes against New Zealand.

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According to Rathour, most teams have also found it difficult to hit enough boundaries while batting first because of challenging pitches.

“One of the factors is definitely the pitch. When we bat first on these surfaces, even though it doesn’t look very uneven or any such thing, there is variation in pace and bounce, so strike rotation is an issue. It’s not only with our team, but for every team that has batted first, this has been an issue,” he said.

“Unfortunately, I agree that we were not able to execute big shots well. So, that will happen once in a while in a game and unfortunately, that happened with us in the last game. Nobody could execute the big hits that they were trying, but as such it’s more to do with the surface that we’ve been playing on,” he added.

Rathour also felt that the second leg of IPL 2021 in UAE was good preparation for India’s players ahead of the T20 World Cup, and it was just their execution that went wrong against Pakistan and New Zealand.

“IPL does provide you the platform where you play against or compete against top cricketers all around the world,” he said.

“So, definitely it is a good platform to practice, so I don’t see any issue there. With us getting into the World Cup after playing IPL, the players got lots of games. They had to work on their game, but whether that worked… What happened in the past two games is that we were not really able to execute our plans the way we wanted to and that has been our issue and not the preparation,” he added.

After losing two consecutive games, India’s fate is not in their own hands and another defeat will confirm their early exit from the T20 World Cup. They will have to win their remaining matches by big margins to ensure their net run rate can be improved and they stand a chance at qualifying.

Talking about India’s next opponent, Afghanistan, Rathour said, “Of course they [Afghanistan] are a good team and they have done well. The challenge will be their spinners. If we can bat to our potential, we have a tremendous and skillful set of players with us, who have done well in the past. If we play to our potential, I think we should be able to do well.”



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