For the very first time in this World Cup, India had to set a total. And, coming up against England in Lucknow, they were off to a rocky start at 40 for 3 in the 12th over. From there, as per their captain and Player of the Match Rohit Sharma, it was vital for him to use all his experience on a challenging pitch and “bat to the situation”.
“It’s just not about going and playing my shots, when you have that much experience you’ve got to use that experience and do whatever is necessary for the team, and it was at that point in time necessary for me to take the game as deep as possible and create that partnership and get to a decent total,” Rohit said after the game.
He had raced away to 17 off 11 in the first two overs after England put India in, but as England repeatedly broke through at the other end, he cut back, easing his way to 29 off 40 before he would hit his next boundary – in the 14th over on his way to 87 off 101, which set India up for a 100-run win.
That margin of victory might be as convincing as they come, but Rohit felt India had left a lot of runs out on the field. He had done the initial repair job with KL Rahul, putting on a stand of 91 for the fourth wicket, and then adding 33 more in partnership with Suryakumar Yadav before falling 13 short of a hundred. From there, England chipped away regularly, tying India down to 229 for 9.
“I still felt like we were 20-30 runs short once we finished,” Rohit said. “The new ball was a bit challenging and then obviously as the game went on the ball got softer, it was not easy to rotate strike. But we said in the middle that we’ve got to keep digging in, keep digging in and then, finally, you know we got to a decent partnership there, but like I said we were 20-30 runs short towards the end.”
Regardless of the conditions, Rohit said some of India’s issues came down to their batters being loose. Shubman Gill was bowled by a good one from Chris Woakes – albeit driving a touch airily – and then Virat Kohli and Shreyas Iyer were poor in their shot selection, offering up catches, the former for a duck. After their repair work Rahul and Rohit, and then Suryakumar too, were caught going for the big shots.
“We were not great with the bat today, losing three wickets in the first powerplay isn’t the ideal situation but when you are in a situation like that all you are looking to do is create that long partnership, which we got. But then couple of guys threw it [away] at the end, including myself,” Rohit said. “But at that stage all I was thinking was to be positive and the balls in my areas I wanted to put it away. That’s how you put the pressure back on the bowler and the opposition as well but, yeah, when you look at the overall picture, I thought we were 30 runs short there.”
Those lost runs were quickly forgotten as India quickly carved up England’s line-up, pacers Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah doing the early damage. Rohit was all praise for his attack: “With the experience that our seamers have now, you know you can always rely and bank on it that they could come good and get you those crucial breakthroughs and that is exactly what our seamers did. They exploited the conditions well and I thought they put the ball in the right areas to create that doubt in the batsmen’s minds.”
“You know when you have a bowling line up like that, it’s very important that the batters put the runs on the board, give them something to work for and then rely on them to do the magic.”
Asked by Michael Atherton at the post-match presentation if India’s is the best-rounded attack in the tournament, Rohit said: “We’ve got a good balance. A couple of good spinners and the seamers have a lot of experience playing in these conditions and, yeah, if I look at the overall options I have in terms of bowling, there is a fair bit and with experience as well.
“So you know when you have a bowling line up like that, it’s very important that the batters put the runs on the board, give them something to work for and then rely on them to do the magic.”
And magic they did, rolling England over with 15 overs to spare to keep India unbeaten at the top of the table and consign the defending champions to their fifth loss in six games.
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