Rohit Sharma heaped praise on classy MS Dhoni after India's domineering win over Sri Lanka, stating that promoting him to No. 4 could be ideal for him as well as for the team. The stand-in captain has also praised his bowlers, especially Yuzvendra Chahal, who claimed four wickets against Sri Lanka.
The first T20I of the three-match series between India and Sri Lanka was played in Cuttack on Wednesday, where the visitors opted to bowl first keeping an eye on the dew factor. However, Rohit Sharma and company hardly had any problems and dominated the game from the very first ball.
Batting first, India posted a huge target of 180 runs despite losing an early wicket in the form of the skipper. KL Rahul took his chances brilliantly, as he scored a crucial 61 runs to set the ball rolling from the very beginning, Young Shreyas Iyer supported him well but could only last 20 balls before he was caught behind. India were looking at a big score at 101/2, when MS Dhoni came into bat.
Barabati Stadium roared in excitement as the former skipper was seen earlier than expected. And he didn’t waste any time getting on with his trade, as he scored 39 runs off 22 balls that included four boundaries and one maximum. While many pundits and former players have suggested the hard hitter to promote himself up the batting order, it was only the 11 time since 2006 that Dhoni batted at this position.
While playing in that position, he has added 244 runs at an average of 61.00 that also includes one half-century. His late charge, along with Manish Pandey, gave India an upper hand even before Sri Lanka came on to bat, and Rohit Sharma was visibly delighted after his side’s 93-run win.
“MSD, he's just class. No. 4 really paid off. He's played so many games for us, won so many games for us and moving forward, we feel making him bat at No. 4 is ideal. That allows Manish and Dinesh to finish games off. For a long period of time, MS has been finishing games off, but we want him to bat freely now, without that pressure. We were not sure what the ideal score would be, with dew and the wicket playing weirdly. So I thought 180 was a great effort,” Rohit said as quoted by PTI.
The skipper also praised KL Rahul for his classy innings at the top who got a chance after not featuring in the ODI and Test series against Sri Lanka. Pandey’s unbeaten 32 in 18 balls, which included two boundaries and two sixes, also played a huge role.
"It was a great move, for KL to start with at the top, was not part of the ODI squad, but he came here and showed he belonged. Batted magnificently. And a great finish to our innings by MS and Pandey. Pandey hasn't had much game time in the middle, so to come out and bat like that is good.”
Indian bowlers were hardly under any pressure and they didn’t give Sri Lanka any chance whatsoever to open their hands by heaping pressure upon them by claiming wickets at regular intervals. Jaydev Unadkat, who returned to the squad after a long time, opened the gates by dismissing Niroshan Dickwella early on.
From there on, the wrist spinners, Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav, got things rolling as they dismantled Sri Lanka’s batting order ruthlessly, jointly claiming six wickets for 41 runs. Hardik Pandya also joined the party late by claiming three wickets.
“Chahal and Kuldeep have always been our wicket-taking options in the middle. They understand what the team expects and they come out and deliver. No words can describe how good they have been for us. The fast bowlers as well, Jaydev playing his first game after a long time, taking an early wicket. Bumrah and Pandya keeping things tight. Conditions weren't easy and they did very very well," the stand-in skipper said Rohit.
The next T20I of the series will be played in Indore on December 22.
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