Sunday, May 26, 2024

ICC: Rohit hails ‘fearless’ approach as India keep hopes alive

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Photo Credit: ICC

Rohit Sharma credited a ‘fearless’ approach as key to India’s convincing victory over Afghanistan which reignited his side’s semi-final hopes.

Rohit joined forces with KL Rahul to set the tone in Abu Dhabi, the pair adding 140 with Rohit contributing a superb 74 from 47 balls after India were put in at the toss.

It was just the sort of partnership India required, having seen sub-par totals surpassed with ease by Pakistan and New Zealand in their opening two Group 2 matches, and was added to by a blistering stand of 63 in 21 balls between Rishabh Pant and Hardik Pandya as India racked up 210 for two.

The highest total of the tournament so far was comfortably defended and Rohit believes the pressure being on has brought the best out of his side.

“We know that if we lose any game from here on now, we are out of the tournament, so we have to win everything,” he said.

“When you are in that kind of situation, you have to play fearlessly, not think too much about what is happening or what is happening elsewhere.

“I think the approach today from everyone was different, and I wish it was in the first two games, as well, but it didn’t happen. But that can happen when you are on the road for a long time.

“Decision making sometimes can be a problem, and that is exactly what happened in the first two games.

“We are a very good team. It’s just that we were not good on that particular day against Pakistan and New Zealand.

“But yes, the game we played today pretty much sums it up that this is the kind of team we are, and when we play fearlessly, this is what we get.”

India removed both openers within four overs of the reply and a miserly spell of two for 14 from Ravichandran Ashwin in the middle overs helped put the game beyond Afghanistan.

It was the spinner’s first limited overs match for his country since 2017 and Rohit hailed the return of another potential match-winner to the Indian fold.

“You saw his quality today,” he said. “He’s a quality bowler, without a doubt.

“He’s played so much cricket now and taken so many wickets, obviously playing for India in limited overs. He also knows that it was a challenge for him because he was playing after three or four years.

“But he was playing IPL consistently and he was bowling really well. He’s someone who’s a wicket-taking option.

“Any time you give him the ball, he comes to take wickets. He’s not there to survive or just to bowl his six balls and get away.

“When you have someone like him in the playing 11, it gives that advantage that you have someone in the middle who can take wickets.

“I’m glad that he could contribute to our success today, and I hope he can do the same in the next few games that we play, as well.”

Afghanistan, for whom the absence of Mujeeb Ur Rahman through injury proved costly, must now beat New Zealand and hope other results fall in their favour if they are to progress following a defeat which damaged their net run rate.
Rashid Khan rued the way his side let Pant and Pandya run riot at the death but was pleased with his side’s efforts with the bat and believes they have the quality to keep their last four hopes alive against the Black Caps.

“It was a wicket where you can chase 170, 180, but they [India] played good cricket and took the target to 210, which on this wicket was 20 or 25 runs too many,” he said.

“As a team we planned to go there and score as many runs as possible just to focus more on the run rate, which might play a main role in the last game when we’re playing against New Zealand. That could be a big difference at the end.

“The message was clear, just go play smart cricket, play 20 overs and get as many as possible, that was the mindset of the players.
“Morale is high. We know our skills. We know our talent, and we have enough experienced players in the side who has played many T20 World Cups for Afghanistan, and we’re going to use that.”

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