India captain Rohit Sharma on Wednesday admitted that the win against New Zealand in the first T20 International did not come easy in the end but said the players would learn from the experience. India bungled towards end before recovering in time to fashion a five-wicket win over New Zealand in Rohit’s first match as full-time T20I captain. The home team was cantering to a comfortable win but messed up the chase in the final four overs before Rishabh Pant took India past the target of 165 with a boundary in the final over.
“It didn’t come as easy as we expected, so great learning for the guys, to understand what needs to be done, not about power-hitting all the time,” he said at the post-match presentation.
“As a captain and a team, happy that those guys finished the game off. A good game for us, missing a few players, opportunity to other guys to show their ability.”
Rohit said at one stage it looked like New Zealand would score 180-plus but a “complete bowling performance” did not let it happen. He also lavished praised on player-of-the match Suryakumar Yadav for his 40-ball 62.
“Sky (Suryakumar) is a very important player for us in the middle, plays spin well,” said Rohit who made 48 off 36 balls. On his dismissal off the bowling of Mumbai Indians team-mate Trent Boult, he said, “Trent Boult knows my weakness, I know his strength. When I am captaining him I always tell him to bluff and that’s what he did. Happy with the win, first win, always nice.”
Suryakumar said he has not been doing anything different. “I try to bat the same way in the nets and replicate the same in the game. I put a lot of pressure on myself in the nets, if I get out I go into the dressing room and think what better I could have done.” He said the ball was coming on nicely to the bat but the pitch became a bit slow later on.
“I am happy to be on the winning side.”
On Boult dropping him, he said, “It’s my wife’s birthday, a perfect gift from him.”
Senior spinner Ravichandran Ashwin said slower balls have more purchase from the pitch.
“It’s tricky how much you toss it up, the windows for attacking are less (in T20s). Identifying the right pace took a bit of time for me,” he said.
“Important to see the game in isolation, 24 events (balls), the batsman is trying to play catch-up, so execute your plans. “We thought it was par, par-minus, 170-175 was par, at the halfway mark we thought we would cruise home,” said Ashwin who took two wickets for 23 runs.
On Rahul Dravid taking charge for his first international match, Ashwin said, “Too early to comment, we need to give him some breathing space. He’s done the hard yards in Under-19 and A sides. Nothing to chance, about preparation, leaving nothing to chance, and bringing back the joy.”
New Zealand captain Tim Southee said his side started badly with the ball but recovered later to take the match to the last over. “The way we started with the ball wasn’t what we wanted, did well to claw it back in the middle, took it deep and to the last over was a positive,” Southee said.
“You want to come out on the right side of close ones, Mark Chapman the way he played was very pleasing, but a game of fine margins.” Southee admitted the sloppy fielding by his side. “We set higher expectations so a bit off with the field, been very very good at it in the last few matches.
“Tough that we’d used our resources, but Daryl does his scouting and always wants to bowl. We probably didn’t leave him enough runs.”
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