Rohit Sharma insisted that it would be imperative for the senior players in the side to not let the two newbies - Kishan and Suryakumar Yadav - feel the pressure and stated that the duo should just think about enjoying themselves. Incidentally, Rohit is the IPL skipper of both Kishan and Suryakumar.
A social media riot broke out when the Indian selectors overlooked Suryakumar Yadav and Ishan Kishan for the Australia T20Is despite the duo amassing over 475 runs each in the 2020 edition of the IPL, but both the stars were rewarded for their patience by being handed maiden call-ups for the T20Is versus England. With the series set to be a five-match encounter, both Suryakumar and Kishan are invariably bound to get at least one game, most likely in the middle-order, where there is not one but two vacant spots up for grabs.
With the World T20 just over eight months away, and with multiple players breathing down their necks, both Suryakumar and Kishan are inevitably bound to feel the pressure from the get go, but Rohit Sharma believes it’s the responsibility of the seniors in the side to make the duo feel comfortable. Addressing a virtual press conference two days ahead of the first T20I, Rohit insisted that it would be imperative for both Suryakumar and Kishan to just enjoy the moment and claimed that, for now, the two IPL superstars should only focus on soaking in the team atmosphere.
“I don’t want them (Suryakumar Yadav and Ishan Kishan) to be thinking about anything. That’s how they bring their best performance out,” Rohit said on Wednesday.
“Watching them closely for a few years now, I’ve realized that it’s important for them to come here and be part of this wonderful setup which the team has. The team has tasted success for all these years. I wanted them to just have and understand what this team is all about. Keeping in mind this is their first time in the squad, they will be a little nervous, thinking about performances, but it’s important for people like me and a few other seniors and coaching staff to tell them that this is just another team you’ve got to be part of.”
Rohit, the skipper of both Suryakumar and Kishan at Mumbai Indians, admitted that international cricket will be tough and will throw challenges at both the players, but stated that senior players need to don the responsibility of guiding the two rising stars along the right path.
“These guys have done well for the last few years, especially last year, so it’s about carrying that form and putting it out here. It’s not going to be easy, they will be challenged every now and then. But that’s what international cricket is all about - you will be challenged every now and then, and it’s how you respond that matters. We just need to keep telling them to have the right mindset to counter the challenges that lie in front of them.”
India play over a dozen T20Is prior to the World T20 in November, and the selection of both Suryakumar and Kishan was seen by many as ‘experimentation’ prior to the global extravaganza. There have also been suggestions that the five-match T20I series against England could serve as an ideal warm-up for the 20-over World Cup. Rohit, however, did not buy into that viewpoint and insisted that team India are still looking to win every match in front of them, and are not thinking about the World Cup, which is still more than half a year away.
“It is important for us to not think too far ahead and focus on the present. The future will take care of itself if we focus on the present. We need to focus on the present and do the little things right. It’s a five-match series, a long series, and as a team for us, it is important for us to see where we stand as a team and as individuals. But there is no time for rehearsals. We need to be at it and we need to have the mindset of winning each and every game we play.”
The forthcoming WT20 will, of course, be the first 20-over World Cup in 5 years, with the last one having been played back in 2016 in India. Rohit quipped that it was ‘good’ that there has been a considerable break between the T20 extravaganzas, and insisted that cramming in too many World Cups in a short span could end up killing the charm of the competition.
“There can’t be too much of the ‘World Cup’ World Cup also. They’ve spaced it nicely between 2016 and 2021. It’s nice for the fans to look forward to something because it’s not every second year you’re playing the World Cup. Otherwise the charm of the World Cup goes away. I think with this, the freshness of the World Cup remains and you look forward to that. And it’s also nice for the people around to look forward to the World Cup,” the Indian vice captain said.
India have not lost a bilateral T20I series in two years, but, nevertheless, the team’s approach with the bat has, at times, come under fire. The general consensus is that the top-order is sometimes too conservative and even the approach of Rohit, who is known to bide his time before teeing off, has at times been questioned. The 33-year-old, though, rubbished questions about his ‘approach’ and claimed that the pacing of his innings has always depended on the situation of the game.
“I have played more than 100 T20s now, you should know my approach by now. I don’t need to talk about the approach I bring into the game. I’ve done it for many years now. But yes, the situation changes every now and then so based on the situation of the game, I’ve to change my game. The approach will always remain the same - which is to have intent and scoring mindset. It is very important to understand the situation and play according to the set. Whether we bat first or bowl first, the situation of the game demands the approach of your batting.”
More than Rohit, however, the spotlight has been on the returning Rishabh Pant, and the Indian vice-captain pleaded with the media to not put pressure on the 23-year-old. Pant has not cracked the limited-overs code in international cricket, but Rohit asserted that ‘Pant will do Pant things’ if he is left alone.
“I think if we can let Rishabh Pant be Rishabh Pant he will come out and give you those performances. I’ve said it many a time in the past that leave Rishabh Pant alone and he will give you those performances.”