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Rohit Sharma: I want middle order to prepare for '10 for 3' situations

On Virat Kohli: "He is still a leader of the team... A batter of his quality is always needed in the squad"

Virat Kohli interviews Rohit Sharma about his century, India v Sri Lanka, World Cup 2019, Leeds, July 6, 2019

Rohit Sharma: Virat Kohli "is still a leader of the team"  •  Stu Forster  /  ICC/Getty Images

Rohit Sharma wants India's white-ball middle order to prepare for the situations when the side has been reduced to "10 for 3".
In the last four years, India have lost in the final of the 2017 Champions Trophy, the semi-final of the 2019 ODI World Cup and crashed out in the group stage of the 2021 T20 World Cup. One common theme has been the team's failure to recover from an early loss of wickets.
During the New Zealand Test series that he skipped, Rohit was asked on YouTube show Backstage with Boria if he has been able to figure out what went wrong in those games.
"To be honest, not really," Rohit said. "I would say it was that initial phase of the game where we lost the game. So that's something I'll keep in mind and see that we prepare for the worst. We have to prepare when the team is 10 for 3. That's how I want to move forward and get the message across to the boys that guys who are batting at No. 3, 4, 5, 6, there's nowhere written that if you are 10 for 2 or 3 [in a T20I], you can't get 180 or you can't get 190, or maybe more.
"I want the guys to prepare in that fashion. Let's say we are playing the semi-final and we are 10 for 2 in the first two overs, what do we do? What is the plan? I want to put ourselves in that situation again and see if we can respond to that. We have got some games before the World Cup to try and test that out. Because if you look there is a similarity between all three games that we lost - two Pakistan games and one New Zealand game in three ICC tournaments.
"I do understand that the quality of the bowling was exceptional at that point, but it has happened three times. I hope that it doesn't happen for the fourth time. So hopefully we will prepare for that, keeping that situation in mind and move forward and see how we can plan - whether we can just counterattack straight from ball one, whoever batter goes in.
"And then I don't want people to think that, 'Oh, they are 10 for 2, what shot is he playing?' The commentators, the people of India or anywhere else, they need to understand that this is a plan of the team."
Rohit, who is now India's captain in both ODIs and T20Is, is not new to captaincy. He is the most successful IPL captain with five titles and has led India previously in the absence of Virat Kohli.
Talking about his leadership philosophy, he said: "A captain is there to ensure right players are playing, the right combination is playing and obviously a few tactical things that you need to look after.
"A captain needs to stand at the forefront while performing and for everything else needs to stand at the back. The reason I say that is he can make a difference by standing at the back because then he can make sure he puts his hand around everyone, that's what I meant when I said you have to be the least important member of the team."
Over the last many years, India's white-ball batting has revolved largely around Rohit and Kohli. And Rohit had "no doubt" he would need Kohli the batter in the side.
"A batter of his quality is always needed in the squad," Rohit said. "To have an average of 50-plus in the T20 format, it's crazy, it's unreal. Obviously, with the experience he has, he has bailed India out so many times from difficult situations.
"So that quality and his kind of batsmanship is obviously required, and he is still a leader of the team. All those things put together, you don't want to miss out, you don't want to ignore that kind of stuff. His presence in the squad is very, very important moving forward and it can only strengthen our team."