‘Didn’t want too many left-handers in the middle-order’
Vikram Rathore, India’s batting coach, disclosed that the decision to have Ishan Kishan open the batting against New Zealand was made to avoid a glut of left-handed batsmen in the middle order.
India changed their top-order to avoid a situation like the one they faced against Pakistan, in which a left-arm seamer (Shaheen Afridi = Trent Boult) and a left-arm spinner (Imad Wasim = Mitchell Santner) bowled together. But the gamble backfired, as Kishan was defeated by Trent Boult of the Mumbai Indians.
“How things went was that Surya was having some back spasm the previous night,” Rathour said. “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.”
After the PowerPlay, India reshuffled their batting order, leaving two anchor hitters – Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli – at Nos. 3 and 4. New Zealand was able to apply the spin choke and eke out as many as 71 boundary-less balls as a result.
“One of the factors is definitely the pitch,” Rathour defended. “When we bat first on these surfaces, even though it doesn’t look very uneven or any such thing, 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.”