Off The Field

Rohit Sharma shuns milestones as India amp-up intent in T20 World Cup: 50s, 100s don’t matter

Written by Sumit Seth

India finally cracked the batting code in the T20 World Cup in their Super 8 innings against Bangladesh on Friday 22 June. India smashed 196 – the highest-ever total at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua. The innings had only one half-centurian – Hardik Pandya, who attained his milestone in the final ball of the innings. There were no anchors in the Indian innings, among the top three batters, something that has not been seen in the last two World Cups at all.

India captain Rohit Sharma, senior batter Virat Kohli and then Rishabh Pant at No. 3 just tried to maximise their scoring options, hitting the Bangladesh bowlers out of the ground in their Super 8 game.

The dismissals were similar too – Rohit and Kohli got out trying to hit a six. Rishabh handed a catch trying to reverse sweep the ball. While many on social media criticised the Indian batters for not playing with caution, Rohit Sharma remained unmoved.

Speaking at the post-match presentation ceremony, Rohit hailed the Indian batters for their intent and the ability to shun the idea of a milestone. Sharma, who had first spoken about the need for renewed intent before the T20 World Cup 2022, walked the talk with 23 off 11 balls, as the rest of the batters followed.

Not a single Indian top-5 batter had a strike rate less than 130, on a slightly sticky pitch in Antigua.

“I have been talking about this for a long time now. It’s about going there and putting that to work. Considering everything we played really well, and adapted to the conditions. There’s a little bit of wind factor here, overall we are very smart, overall we were good with bat and ball,” Sharma told the broadcaster after the match.

The Indian captain categorically shunned the need to play a milestone innings. Why wouldn’t he? India bat till 8 in this T20 World Cup. Rather than playing a long innings of 60-ball hundred, it is possibly better to utilise the skill sets of world-class batters who can hold their own against any opposition in the world.

“All eight batters need to play their role, whatever it is. We saw one guy get 50 and we got 196, in T20 I don’t believe we need to get fifties and hundreds, what matters is the pressure you put on the bowlers. All the batters from the word go played like that and that’s how we want to play as well,” Rohit said.

Rohit found support from two of the brightest brains in Indian cricket – R Ashwin and Wasim Jaffer. Both took to Twitter to express their joy in watching the Indian team bat, hailing the freshness of the approach.

“We are not used to an approach where batsmen throw it away after making 30’s 20’s, but it is about time we embrace an approach like this especially while batting first. Top Intent from all the Indian batters so far,” R Ashwin said on Twitter.

About the author

Sumit Seth