Bangladesh v India, Asia Cup 2016, Mirpur February 24, 2016

Dhoni praises Rohit's adaptability under duress


Rohit Sharma and Hardik Pandya put on 61 for the fifth wicket in just 27 balls © AFP/Getty Images

A top-order batsman scored big, which led to a comfortable victory in limited-overs cricket in the subcontinent. Seems just another Wednesday for the Indian team.

Except the pitch in Mirpur had a considerable amount of live grass on it, India were invited to bat first and were afforded very few bad balls in the early tussle. They had already disintegrated once on a bowler-friendly pitch in Pune and the chances of a repeat weren't all that outlandish.

So Rohit Sharma's 83 off 55 balls was the "kind of batting that was really needed," in the words of his captain MS Dhoni. He weathered a four-pronged pace attack, with Taskin Ahmed and Mustafizur Rahman topping 140 kph, didn't panic when India were only 52 for 3 at the halfway stage and found his runs via the safest possible means. He knew the pitch was offering sharp bounce, so the drive on the up was stowed away. In fact, most of his runs down the ground were off singles until the six and four he hit after becoming well set in the 16th over.

"Overall if you see, he used the pace of the bowler," Dhoni said when asked what he thought of Rohit's innings. "They were bowling back of a length so he played a few cuts shots and he actually exploited the field more often than not." Rohit collected 20 of his runs behind point, and the two fours and a six availed from that region came immediately after he was dropped on 21 off 28 balls.

Along with deciding which areas to target, Dhoni also praised Rohit for knowing when to step back and Hardik Pandya for stepping up. The 22-year old allrounder strode in at No. 6 and clattered five of his first 11 balls to the boundary. He got to face seven more and came away with 31 off 18 in a partnership that provided 61 off 27.

"Rohit made sure he gave a little more strike to Hardik when he started hitting and he stayed till the end," Dhoni said. "Because of Hardik we got those extra 10-15 runs otherwise we were thinking a score of 140 would have been a very good score."

India's 166 for 6 did have something missing. Yuvraj Singh, making a comeback ahead of the World T20, had his second opportunity in seven matches to spend some time at the crease but he could muster only 15 off 16 balls. Dhoni mounted a concerted defence of his team-mate.

"I think the approach was good because all of a sudden you don't want to go out there when you get a chance to bat thinking that you want to do all these things. What's important is to play the delivery according to the merit. I feel that was what he was doing. Today he played a fabulous shot through the mid-off region and I think that's the kind of batting that's really needed from him.

"It's important for him to score runs, even if it is 15 runs, 12 runs or 20 runs, that will give him a lot of confidence and we all know once he's confident he's a completely different player and also to expect him to score big in the very first opportunity that he gets, or any other player gets, is very difficult. I feel he'll need a bit of time, an opportunity like this is always going to be good for him. It doesn't really matter how many he has scored but the time he spends in the middle will be something that is very crucial not only for him but also for the team."

It was actually something of a surprise to see Dhoni playing today's game. He had hurt his back while training on Monday and with the World T20 only three weeks away, there must have been a strong temptation to rest him.

"There was this dilemma of playing or not playing," he confessed. "But in this format if you're not playing, you have to leave the team and go back and it was a kind of scenario where it was difficult to convince people that I'll make sure I'll go through the 20 overs."

With bat in hand, he had no trouble: the six he hit to finish off the innings had barely begun its descent when he started to walk off to the dressing room. But keeping wicket proved a little more taxing and he needed a brace for his lower back in the 10th over of the chase.

"So what's the state [of my back], I'll get to know tomorrow, once you get up the body gives you a proper scenario. Now the body is warm, so it may give you fake signals. We'll see tomorrow how it goes, with two more days for the next game."

Alagappan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Navin on February 26, 2016, 0:41 GMT

    Yuvi is still a game changer when it matters most, he will not waste time like Sir Jaddu did. He can hit big sixes out of nowhere, Dhoni will use him when needed, so far he is not really required to do much as frontline batters are doing well. Yuvi is very experienced and playing his last WC. He is still a decent fielder and a good bowler in Subcontinent.

  • ashok on February 25, 2016, 21:44 GMT

    Feeble opponents alright, but does matter when you were 52/3 in 10 overs. Problem is there are players in every team who are overrated for T20s. Examples are Dhawan and Yuvraj for India, Smith, Maxwell, for Australia, Bangladesh an entire team...

  • Manan on February 25, 2016, 16:14 GMT

    Would like to pick Dipak Hooda instead of yuvi and Sanju/ Manan vohra / S Iyer instead of shikhar dhawan.

  • sam on February 25, 2016, 11:35 GMT

    @SauravJain You forget that your favorite player Ravindra Jadeja lost us WT20 in 2009 and 2010. Without him, India would have certainly reached the semi-finals in both those occasions. Jadeja is unplayable on rank turners and very good on pitches that turn but he is useless when it doesn't turn. No flight, no dip and no drift. He is a part-timer on those pitches. Pandya on other hand is very raw but I have repeatedly said on this forum that talent-wise he is the best seam-bowling all-rounder since Manoj Prabhakar. Pandya has demonstrated that he can play the cover drive, square cut and straight drive in domestic cricket but unfortunately you Sir, never bother to watch domestic cricket.

  • sam on February 25, 2016, 11:32 GMT

    It's not that Yuvraj isn't playing upto potential. It's that Yuvraj is long past his prime (similar to MSD; though MSD can still make it work somewhat but Yuvraj can't as unlike MSD who can play because of his keeping Yuvraj doesn't have a great second skill to fall back on). Even if Yuvraj scores 40 off 20 in next game I will still say the same thing. He will never again be consistently brilliant as he used to be especially between 2005-2008 (or even WC 2011). And since his comeback from cancer he has been a shadow of the batsman he used to be.

  • raj on February 25, 2016, 10:21 GMT

    Yuvraj not playing upto his potential. If the same thing repeats then the memory of 2014 world cup finals will come back to haunt dhoni and india

  • raghav on February 25, 2016, 7:51 GMT

    Rohit is an awesome batsman in shorter formats and sooting to watch. My concern is on Yuvi (die hard fan) as he is already selected in the T20 WC team and Dhoni will definitely pick him over Ajinkya for his alrounder skills and better ability as pinch hitter than Rahane. He needs to perform now to prove his worth and trust of his captain and selectors, otherwise it is unfair to deserved youngsters who are knocking the national team doors with their performances and skills at U19, India A and RanJi level.

  • Saurav on February 25, 2016, 7:23 GMT

    Hardik is a Yusuf Pathan type player. I am sure opposition's will surely ploy some bowling strategy for him He has not proven on quality spinners or quality seemers though. Secondly Yuvi should feel from his own that Manish Pandey,Jadeja ,Uthappa ,Sarfaraj etc are waiting for there chances. Selectors should prefer current form and talent rather than yesteryear superstardom.

  • Anuj on February 25, 2016, 5:28 GMT

    Why no-one mentions Sabbir Rehman dropped twice and BD won't have reached 100, memory loss?

  • Pony on February 25, 2016, 4:40 GMT

    @OLDTIMER01:The ball went really fast to Shakib.It looked like an easy catch but it was a tough one.If Rohit had failed,Yuvi,Hardik,Dhoni,Ashwin and Jadeja were still there.So,India would have definitely reached 140-145.

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