Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo
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Rohit Sharma, the India captain, has hailed Arshdeep Singh's confidence and composure despite the recent social media backlash after the India-Pakistan clash. Arshdeep had been tasked with bowling two of his four overs at the death in both of India's Super 4s game, and while India ended up losing both, his yorkers and the ability to hold his own in tight situations stood out.
The social media backlash that turned into a full-blown troll fest came in the aftermath of a dropped chance in a crunch moment, when Pakistan needed 31 off 16 balls and Arshdeep reprieved Asif Ali first ball at short third. Asif would go on to dent India by hitting 16 off eight balls before Iftikhar Ahmed sealed a dramatic last-over win.
"Honestly, guys don't look too much into social media, there's too much crap happening there," Rohit said. "A few losses here and there, few games here and there, one drop catch…I don't think we look too much into it.
"Yes, he himself was disappointed because it was a catch that could've been taken, but again if you saw his confidence in that final over, he nailed that yorker pretty well to get Asif Ali out. That shows if he was down and out, when you're mentally not there, the execution doesn't happen. But in his case, he came out confident to execute. In fact, he just ran into his place and took the ball, because he wanted that over to be bowled by him."
On Tuesday, like it was against Pakistan, Arshdeep bowled two of his four overs - the 17th and 20th - at the death. His final over, with Sri Lanka needing seven - was an outstanding one, particularly. He delivered four pin-point yorkers that went for three singles and a double, before Sri Lanka squeezed home courtesy two byes - a miss from Rishabh Pant at the striker's end and Arshdeep at the non-striker's end.
Arshdeep has so far featured in 10 T20Is, picking up 13 wickets at an economy rate of 7.60. His ability to swing the new ball both ways and his yorkers at the death have been the standout factors that have impressed the team management.
"Even today, he bowled pretty well, those last two overs," Rohit said. "He is a very confident lad, that's why he is here. He has been with the team ahead of a lot of guys who are sitting back home because he's clear in his mind, a very confident lad. I've not seen many people like that in their early days of playing for India. He's very confident and wants to do well. He's quite hungry for success for the team, which is a good sign for me as captain. Even Rahul [Dravid] bhai will tell you, we're very happy with how he takes his game, and how approaches his game."
Rohit also offered his support for Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who had two ordinary outings, especially in the death overs. In both games, he bowled the penultimate over that went for 19 (against Pakistan) and 14 (against Sri Lanka). His combined figures in both the games read 8-0-70-1. Rohit was firm in his response, that these things weren't going to worry the team management and how two bad days won't undo years of good work in the team management's eyes.
"No yaar, there's no worry," Rohit said. "You lose two games and then you don't start worrying. We don't talk like this in our dressing room. We've won so many matches post the [T20] World Cup . Experienced players get out, experienced players concede runs, these are normal things. They happen. I don't think we should worry about these things. Bhuvi has been playing for so many years, has been winning games for us in death overs, so one or two games, we shouldn't be judgmental."
Rohit also went to great lengths to explain how despite the nature of losses, the bowlers were all in a good headspace, contrary to the perception that they had been "mentally disturbed."
"If you don't get wickets upfront, yes, there's pressure when you don't have a 190-200 target. We've seen while chasing, the wicket becomes better. We knew if we didn't get wickets in the powerplay, it would be difficult, but it doesn't seem to be that any bowler is down or mentally disturbed. All the boys have confidence in their ability.
"If you play these many games consistently, execution [going off] happens at times. In our judgment, we don't say the morale is down. There will be such matches, it happens to everyone. I don't think we look at it this way. All the boys are confident and have done well for us in the last six months".