When India lost the first T20I against Bangladesh in Delhi, India’s stand-in skipper Rohit Sharma shielded his team from criticism. “The guys are a bit inexperienced, and they can learn from that, perhaps not make them (mistakes) the next time,” the Mumbai batsman had said in the post-match presentation. Rohit, himself, was dismissed cheaply after making a bright start to his innings with the bat and had a point to prove.
In the second T20I at Rajkot, Rohit Sharma lived up to his defence of the side. Despite a comprehensive seven-wicket loss in Delhi, the Indian captain stuck with the same XI. He backed his men to come back stronger, and the side didn’t fail him.
Contrary to the first match, the side’s bowling performance was impressive as India invited Bangladesh to bat first on a batting-friendly pitch at Rajkot. Barring Khaleel Ahmed (who nominally improved in the final overs of the match), the Indian bowlers stepped up to the occasion. Even as Rishabh Pant and Rohit Sharma committed sloppy mistakes on the field, the damage was controlled efficiently.
India restricted Bangladesh to 153 on a quick outfield, which put the hosts in a commanding position – even before the chase. Then, we saw a Rohit Sharma masterclass – and, again, his ability to soak the pressure off.
Rohit’s opening partner Shikhar Dhawan had a torrid time in the first match with the bat. In a painfully slow innings, during which Dhawan played 42 off the 120 deliveries bowled in the innings, he could only score 41. Amongst players who crossed 40+ scores, he was the only fifth batsman to have a strike-rate of less than 100. Naturally, Dhawan was cautious – even as the pitch assisted batsmen.
By the third over of the innings, the pattern for Dhawan’s innings looked awfully similar. India had scored 22 runs – Dhawan had scored 11 off 12 deliveries. The required run-rate was ticking up and the side needed quick runs. It was then when Rohit Sharma decided to take the charge.
For the next nine overs, Rohit Sharma smashed the ball left, right and centre to deny Bangladesh a chance of a comeback in the game.
He began the fourth over with two fours in the first two balls – instantly putting the pressure on Mustafizur Rahman. Desperate to stop the flow of runs, Rohit forced the bowler to experiment – and thus make mistakes. He smashed 15 off the over, and the six balls set the tone for Rohit Sharma’s innings. In the next 31 deliveries, Rohit scored 63 runs.
Rohit’s innings also allowed Shikhar Dhawan to free his hands. He could now take his time, and once set, the left-hander also joined his opening partner. While he couldn’t match Rohit’s prowess, he did show signs of improvement from the previous innings – even if they don’t indicate a complete return to form for him. He scored 31 runs in 27 deliveries – an innings which is reasonably slow with the T20I standards of today, but one which could prove to be the confidence-builder as India look forward to the series decider on Sunday.
Rohit Sharma set the tone for India’s victory in Rajkot as the side cruised to an 8-wicket victory to level the series 1-1. While Shreyas Iyer, who, like in the previous game, scored a quick-fire 24 off 13, KL Rahul remained unbeaten on 8