T20 WC: Mahela Jayawardene reckons Rohit Sharma should have opened against NZ

In India's T20 World Cup match against New Zealand, Ishan Kishan came out to open in Rohit Sharma's place and got out after scoring just four runs.

Published: 02nd November 2021 02:59 PM  |   Last Updated: 02nd November 2021 05:32 PM   |  A+A-

Mumbai Indians coach Mahela Jayawardene

Mumbai Indians coach Mahela Jayawardene (Photo | PTI)


ABU DHABI: Former Sri Lanka captain and Mumbai Indians coach Mahela Jayawardene has said that Rohit Sharma should not have been asked to bat at number three in the crucial T20 World Cup encounter against New Zealand.

For the all-important clash, India made two changes -- Shardul Thakur and Ishan Kishan came in for Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Suryakumar Yadav. Rohit Sharma came into bat at number three, while Ishan came out to open alongside KL Rahul, but this move backfired as Ishan did not manage to leave a mark with the bat.

"You can be flexible. But not with your top-three batters. I think most teams if you take, you don't have too much flexibility in that top three. They are settled. They are the ones who are going to give you that initial tempo, who are going to go about things. And then you have that guy at No. 3 who is going to glue things together and bat in both halves of the innings and the rest of the guys are the ones who will probably get floated in and around," Jayawardene said on ESPNcricinfo's show 'T20 Time Out'.

"That's his role he plays in T20 cricket and Virat Kohli is either an opener or No. 3. I think KL Rahul would have been able to play that No. 4 role because he has that ability to change and adapt," he added.

Trent Boult and Ish Sodhi starred with the ball before Daryl Mitchell smashed 49 off 35 to help New Zealand defeat India by eight wickets in the ongoing T20 World Cup. India was restricted to 110/7 in the allotted 20 overs against New Zealand. No Indian batter was able to stay at the crease for long, and what followed was a lacklustre performance.

"In an ideal scenario, if India had a good start and had a settled thing, even Rishabh Pant could have batted No. 4 - given they [New Zealand] had a left-arm spinner [Mitchell Santner] and a legspinner [Ish Sodhi], he would have got more licence to then play knowing that he had two-three batters behind him," said Jayawardene.

"So rather than making all those changes they should have done just that subtle change - one in, one out - and then maybe one batter changing positions, rather than three batters changing their slots, would have made a bit more sense. Especially going against a very good New Zealand new-ball attack because it was always going to do a little bit in those three-four overs," he added.

Further talking about India's batting order for the clash against Kiwis, Jayawardene said: "Especially when you are going into a World Cup, you should have a steady, stable, settled set-up where everyone understands where if someone fails, that's my role, to go in, consolidate and then kick on, get the tempo going again. I think that's where India struggled. Especially having lost to Pakistan and then going into another big match, once you unsettle that, the fear of failure and all those thought processes creep into your game."

Kohli and boys will next take on Afghanistan on Wednesday at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi.

"They still have an opportunity. Anything can happen. And if they sneak through to those semi-final spots they are a force to reckon with. But if they don't have a successful T20 World Cup, there's another one coming pretty soon (in Australia in late 2022) and obviously it's an opportunity for them to look at some of the other options that they have," said Jayawardene.

"We see a lot of young Indian players coming through, we've seen it in the IPL as well, in the big stage, playing with fearlessness. They bat just the situation, they don't bat anything other than that. So that's something you need in T20 cricket. Bit of experience and bit of fearlessness to guide you through those tough situations," he added.


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