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regular-article-logo Sunday, 26 May 2024

Rohit Sharma must play a solid innings to regain tempo in the third and final T20I against Afghanistan

Captain's form India's only concern

Our Bureau Calcutta Published 17.01.24, 09:49 AM
Rohit Sharma

Rohit Sharma File picture

The series-victory box has already been ticked with an unassailable 2-0 lead. Alongside having the scope to experiment, what matters for Team India now is their captain Rohit Sharma playing a solid innings and regaining a bit of tempo in the third and final T20I against Afghanistan at the Chinnaswamy in Bangalore on Wednesday.

In order to reinforce his bid to lead India in another T20 World Cup after the
tournament’s previous edition in 2022, Rohit, yet to open his account in the series after back-to-back ducks, does need some runs under his belt as far as the shortest format is concerned.

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Wednesday’s game is India’s last T20I before the format’s mega event in the West Indies and the United States this June. So, the IPL aside, Rohit won’t be getting any further opportunities in the form of competitive games to get that flow back in his batting.

Even in the IPL, in its last three editions to be precise, Rohit hasn’t really been intimidating at the top, which too has been one big reason behind Mumbai Indians’ struggle in the competition since winning their fifth crown in 2020.

Rohit doesn’t need to prove how devastating he can be at the top. He had shown it once again with his intent and aggression in the Powerplay during last year’s ODI World Cup. That was key to India enjoying a good run till losing the final to Australia.

None can question Rohit’s ability. But given the manner he was dismissed in the first two games of this series, one may so feel that a little bit of over-anxiousness has crept into the skipper’s batting.

In the series opener in Mohali, he could well have avoided that risky single in the very first over of India’s run chase, especially when they were in pursuit of a modest 159-run target in batter-friendly conditions. In the second one in Indore last Sunday, he tried to hoick one across the line off Fazalhaq Farooqi even though he was yet to get his eye in.

Virat Kohli, too, did not score too many runs in his comeback T20I last Sunday, but those 29 runs he got came at a strike rate of 193.33. And it’s the strike rate that assu­mes greater importance on most occasions in T20 cricket.

So more than Kohli, it’s Rohit who’s under a little more pressure to come up with a contribution of significance. Besides, the pitch at the Chinnaswamy has been prepared afresh, which means it should be aiding strokeplay more than what was noticed during the India-Australia T20I last month.

The Rohit case aside, the team management can also afford to allot game time to the likes of left-arm chinaman Kuldeep Yadav and pacer Avesh Khan in this final T20I. Both Kuldeep and Avesh are yet to play in this series.

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