As India‘s chances of making it to another Asia Cup final were dented severely on Tuesday (September 6) night, Rohit Sharma reckoned his team’s inability to ‘close the game’ with their batting at the death cost them in the fixture against Sri Lanka. On a slightly sluggish Dubai pitch, India made a cautious start in the PowerPlay by their standards and lost KL Rahul and Virat Kohli within the six overs. They only managed 44 for 2 in this phase, but managed to find the next gear through the middle overs.
Rohit and Suryakumar Yadav went after the bowling in this period, including an 18-run over from Wanindu Hasaranga that included two sixes and a four. Rohit raced away to a 32-ball 50 while Suryakumar too threw his bat around to make up for the ordinary start. In the 36 balls after the PowerPlay, the pair hit 65 runs, setting India up for a big total. Rohit’s dismissal in the 13th over however, turned the tide for them. None from India’s middle-order spine of Hardik Pandya, Rishabh Pant and Deepak Hooda could consolidate as India limped to 173 for 8 – hitting just 64 off the last 48 deliveries.
“The way we batted in the first 6 overs, we couldn’t score as many as we wanted to because we lost wickets. After that we got a bit of momentum and then after that we should’ve capitalised well. After the 7-8 overs after PowerPlay (from over number 7 to 12 or 13), we couldn’t close the game with our batting,” Rohit said in the post-match press conference.
“But these things happen. We were talking about it in our team meeting yesterday, how well we’ve played at the death and in the middle. So it happens sometimes that the way you want to play and the situation you want to put your team in doesn’t materialise. I felt we were 10-12 runs short,” Rohit added.
In conditions where batting second was a bit easier, Sri Lanka flew off the blocks in the chase to put themselves in control and India under pressure. Rohit said his spin pair of Yuzvendra Chahal and Ashwin gave the team a glimmer of hope after Sri Lanka dominated the first half of the chase but it didn’t prove to be enough. Sri Lanka went from 97 for 0 in 11 overs to 120 for 4 in 15, with Chahal picking three and Ashwin picking one. But their middle-order pair of Dasun Shanaka and Bhanuka Rajapaksa took charge and hit the 54 required off the last 30 balls with one delivery to spare.
“175 was still a decent score to defend, not that it was really small or gets chased easily. We’ve seen in this ground that even if you start well and take wickets in the middle overs, then there’s a chance. After the way they batted at the start today, got 55 in the PowerPlay (57/0) and even after that the next 3-4 overs, they scored heavily and put us under pressure. But our spinners came and gave us hope but eventually we couldn’t close the game,” Rohit said.
Twice in two games now, Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s death overs bowling has come under the scanner. Against Pakistan, when they needed 26 off 12, the stalwart gave away 19 to leave Arshdeep Singh to defend just 7 in the last over. On Tuesday, when Sri Lanka needed 21 off 12, Bhuvneshwar conceded 14 – once again leaving Arshdeep to defend 7. Rohit came to the defence of his senior bowling, and reiterated that they are not worried by two defeats.
“We don’t worry after two defeats. In our dressing room, we don’t talk like that because we’ve played so many matches after the last world cup and won so many games. These two matches we’ve lost back to back, but I don’t think there’s a point of worry. Experienced players also get out, experienced players also go for runs. I don’t think we should worry about it. Because Bhuvi has been playing for so many years, and has done his job at the death, won so many games for us so we shouldn’t judge him by one or two games,” Rohit said.
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