India's reshuffle of their batting order against New Zealand became a major talking point after the side careened to a second successive defeat at the T20 World Cup. A back spasm to Suryakumar Yadav prompted the team management to bring in Ishan Kishan, who was bumped up to open alongside KL Rahul, with Rohit Sharma dropping down to No. 3. While Kishan holed out for 4 off eight balls, Rohit managed a run-a-ball 14 before falling to Ish Sodhi.

Vikram Rathour, India's batting coach, said that the team management believed that the side would be better off with Kishan opening rather than slotting into the middle order and making it a left-hander heavy one. The move also denied Trent Boult a favourable match-up against Rohit, but it didn't come off on Sunday.

"How things went was that Surya was having some back spasm the previous night," Rathour explained. "So, he was not fit enough to be in the playing XI. So, the person coming in was of course Ishan. And Ishan has done really well as an opener in IPL and in the past for the Indian team as well. And about who takes the call - it was the whole management who sits together and takes this call and of course, Rohit is part of that group.

"So, Rohit was of course part of that discussion, which tactically made sense having a left-hander upfront because we didn't want too many left-handers in the late middle order with Ishan, Pant and Jadeja. So, tactically it made sense and that guy has batted well at the top of the order."

Mahela Jayawardene, the former Sri Lanka captain and Rohit's coach at Mumbai Indians in the IPL, was critical of India asking some of their players to adapt to new roles in the middle of a World Cup.

"Ishan has done really well as an opener in IPL and in the past for the Indian team as well. And about who takes the call - it was the whole management who sits together and takes this call and of course, Rohit is part of that group"
Vikram Rathour

"If you batted them in those correct positions, they are familiar with those roles and they would have executed," Jayawardene said on ESPNcricinfo's T20 Time Out. "If they had failed in those roles, then that's a question you can always ask. But if you are pulling guys away from those particular roles where they are quite familiar with, then it's always going to be a tough one."

The rest of the batters too struggled to find the boundary so much that India went 71 balls between the sixth and the 17th overs without finding the fence. They managed just two sixes against New Zealand. Rathour put down a part of those struggles to batting first on challenging pitches, pointing out that most teams have also found it difficult to hit enough boundaries while batting first.

"One of the factors is definitely the pitch," Rathour said. "When we bat first on these surfaces, even though it doesn't look very uneven or any such thing, but there is variation in pace and bounce, so strike rotation is an issue. It's not only with our team, but for every team that has batted first, this has been an issue.

"Unfortunately, I agree that we were not able to execute big shots well. So, that will happen once in a while in a game and unfortunately, that happened with us in the last game. Nobody could execute the big hits that they were trying, but as such it's more to do with the surface that we've been playing on."

The IPL was good preparation for India's players ahead of the T20 World Cup, and it was just their execution that went awry against Pakistan and New Zealand, according to Rathour.

"IPL does provide you the platform where you play against or compete against top cricketers all around the world," he said. "So, definitely it is a good platform to practice, so I don't see any issue there. With us getting into World Cup after playing IPL, the players got lots of games. They had to work on their game, but whether that worked... what happened in the past two games is that we were not really able to execute our plans the way we wanted to and that has been our issue and not the preparation."

Two heavy defeats in Dubai have put India's semi-final chances in jeopardy and they will now have to adapt against Afghanistan's spinners in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday. Rathour, though, backed India to come good.

"Of course they [Afghanistan] are a good team and they have done well," Rathour said. "The challenge will be their spinners. If we can bat to our potential, we have a tremendous and skilful set of players with us, who have done well in the past. If we play to our potential, I think we should be able to do well."

Deivarayan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo