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Wanted to give Shami a challenge: Rohit on holding him back till final over


Bowling Mohammed Shami only in the final over of India’s warm-up match against Australia was highly surprising. Justifying the move, skipper Rohit Sharma said the plan was to throw a “challenge” at the man returning from a long layoff.

Taking the challenge head on, Shami put the concerns over his fitness to rest with a sensational 20th over as India pulled off a six-run win in their first warm-up fixture of the T20 World Cup here on Monday.

Drafted into the squad as a replacement for the injured Jasprit Bumrah, Shami landed yorker after yorker and ended up with three wickets in the over.

“Honestly, he is coming back after a long time. So we just wanted to give him an over. This was always the plan from the beginning,” Rohit said on Star Sports.

“He comes and bowls at the death. We know how lethal he can be with the new ball. We just wanted to give him a little bit of a challenge, coming and bowling that death over and we saw what it was,” the India captain said of the man who last played a competitive game in July and landed here after suffering a long bout of COVID-19.

Needing 11 to win off six balls, the Australians were on course but Shami, returning from a long injury layoff, had other ideas as the home team lost four wickets in the last over, including a run out.

K L Rahul (57 off 33) and Suryakumar Yadav (50 off 33) smashed entertaining half-centuries to power India to 186 for seven after Australia opted to bowl at the Gabba.

However, concerns over India’s bowling remains ahead of their tournament opener against arch-rivals Pakistan on October 23. Rohit is seeking more consistency in bowling.

“There is definitely room for improvement. I am sure we are on it but I want to see more consistency in terms of where you want to pitch the ball. You know, when you play back home and when you play in Australian conditions, you have to change your tactics, change your lengths a little bit.

“Sometimes, keeping it simple and hitting the ball hard on the deck will be a good option. It is something we’ve been working on, speaking to the guys about it. But overall, it was a good game for us. Like I said, it was a good pitch.

“They had a decent partnership in the middle, which put pressure on us a little bit. But our last three-four overs were really good.” The Indian batters enjoyed the pace and bounce of the wicket, especially Rahul who scored the bulk of the runs in the powerplay, taking his team to 69 for no loss. Later on, the in-form Suryakumar also played a fine knock to prop up India.

“I thought we batted well. Just towards the end, we could have added 10-15 runs more,” Rohit said.

“That’s something that we have been talking about. We want the set batter to bat as long as possible and till the end, which Surya did to some extent.

“Yeah, overall, it was a great batting effort. It was a good pitch to play on, nice bounce, we could trust our shots and that’s exactly what some of the guys did.” Playing on the big Australian grounds with large boundaries was a new experience for some of the Indians. The bigger boundaries also made an impact on the experience campaigners with Virat Kohli (19 off 13), Dinesh Karthik (20 off 14), Rohit and Rahul getting caught in the deep.

“You have to be smart when you plan your batting on grounds like these. Hitting boundaries and sixes, of course, sounds nice, but you cannot forget pushing the ball in the gap, running between the wickets really hard and trying to get eight-nine runs in an over,” Rohit said.

“(It’s) also a quite safe plan to have and it’s something we have been talking about.

“When we played in Perth (against WA XI) as well, the practice game, one side of the boundary would be large and it was a great practice for us today.”





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