Rohit Sharma stated the ongoing T20Is were platforms to experiment and hand out chances to young emerging cricketers to prove themselves on the international stage. He went on to reinforce India's newly adopted batting strategy of aggressiveness, saying one loss can't create panic or trigger change.
After a thumping 63-run victory in the first T20I at the Brian Lara Cricket Academy, the Indian cricket team was humbled and sent crashing down to earth courtesy of a brilliant all-around performance by the West Indies in the second game of the five-match series. The two teams played their first ever 20-over encounter at Warner Park in St. Kitts and Nicholas Pooran sent the Men in Blue to bat first after winning the toss.
Leading pacer Obed McCoy was instantly off the mark, scalping the precious wicket of skipper Rohit Sharma in the very first delivery of the innings. He soon got the second opener, Suryakumar Yadav, as well, before demolishing the team's middle-order in his second spell to end up with record figures of 4-1-17-6. A run-a-ball 31 from Hardik Pandya and a patient 27 from Jadeja aimed to stabilise the innings following a quickfire 24 from Rishabh Pant, but it was never enough to pressurise the visitors as India were bowled out for a paltry 138.
Sharma believes the team's batting approach may not have worked out this time around but the priority for such a bilateral series was making sure the youngsters get ample playing time, especially with senior players like Virat Kohli and Jasprit Bumrah rested for the tour.
"Firstly, there weren't enough runs on the board. We didn't bat well. The pitch was playing nicely but we didn't apply ourselves. But this can happen. When you are doing something as a batting group, you might not always succeed. But we will learn from this. It is all about giving opportunities to these guys," he said in the post-match conference as reported by Cricbuzz.
The bowlers did well to limit the damage in the first innings, taking wickets at crucial junctures to keep the batsmen on a leash. Pandya was yet again the pick of the bowlers conceding just 16 runs in his four overs and sending Kyle Mayers back to the pavilion, while Arshdeep Singh impressed again with an economy of just 6.50 runs. In the 16th over, Avesh Khan produced the all-important wicket of Brandon King after a well-made 68 to bring the visitors back into the game. This earned the 25-year-old the right to bowl the final over despite being expensive, even though in-form veteran Bhuvneshwar Kumar had two overs left.
The gamble eventually did not pay off as Khan started off with a no-ball with just 10 runs to defend, with a six off the free-hit pretty much sealing the deal for the Caribbean outfit. Nevertheless, Rohit remained unfazed when it came to faith in the abilities of his proteges, praising their efforts to make the game tight.
“We know what Bhuvi does for us; he has been doing it for years. Unless you give chances to guys like Avesh and Arshdeep you'll never know,” the skipper remarked.
“But it is just one game. They have the skills and the talent and it is all about backing them. I am really proud of the bowlers and the team. Targets such as these can get over in 13-14 overs but we dragged it to the last over. I thought the guys executed the plans and really happy with the way the guys bowled."
With the World T20 just a little over two months away, the time has come for the Men in Blue to finalize their lineup and overall tactical approach. Under the leadership of Rohit Sharma, the side has largely opted for an aggressive batting strategy following the footsteps of teams like England and even though it cost them the game on Monday, the Indian captain believes it is the way to have success in the long term.
"We have to look at some things in our batting. But I will say it again and again, this is the approach we want with the bat. We won't panic. We won't change anything after one loss."