In the final over of India’s first warm-up match against Australia at The Gabba on Monday, the visitors’ needed 11 runs to defend. Captain Rohit Sharma pulled off a surprise by giving the ball to senior pacer Mohammed Shami, who hadn’t bowled in the match till then.
Shami, bowling for the first time since July and after missing out on bilateral T20Is against Australia and South Africa, took three wickets in an over where Australia lost last four scalps as India won the match narrowly by six runs. What would please India more was Shami bowling to pin-point yorkers on the last two balls to castle Josh Inglis and Kane Richardson.
“This was always the plan you saw what he did. Honestly, he is coming back after a long time. So we just wanted to give him an over. This was always the plan from the beginning. He comes and bowls at the death. We know how lethal he can be with the new ball. We just wanted to give him a little bit of a challenge, coming and bowling that death over and we saw what it was,” said India captain Rohit Sharma to broadcasters after the match ended.
India’s batting put up a challenging 186/7 on being pushed to batting first. Fifties from KL Rahul (57) and Suryakumar Yadav (50) were the main factors in India getting a good total on a good pitch at The Gabba. But Rohit felt India would have been benefitted if they didn’t lose three wickets in the last five overs.
“I thought we batted well. Just towards the end, we could have added 10-15 runs more. That’s something that we have been talking about. We want the set batter to bat as long as possible and till the end, which Surya did to some extent. Overall, it was a great batting effort. It was a good pitch to play on, nice bounce, we could trust our shots and that’s exactly what some of the guys did,” he added.
With The Gabba having large square boundaries of 74m and 69m, Rohit felt it was a good practice for India to bat with dimensions like that, something which they will encounter regularly in the T20 World Cup.
“You have to be smart when you plan your batting on grounds like these. Hitting boundaries and sixes, of course, sounds nice, but you cannot forget pushing the ball in the gap, running between the wickets really hard and trying to get eight-nine runs in an over.”
“(It’s) also a quite safe plan to have and it’s something we have been talking about. When we played in Perth (against Western Australia XI at WACA stadium) as well, the practice game, one side of the boundary would be large and it was a great practice for us today.”
Rohit signed off by saying that India will be looking for more improvements in future matches, like in their second practice match against New Zealand at the same venue on Wednesday.
“There is definitely room for improvement. I am sure we are on it but I want to see more consistency in terms of where you want to pitch the ball. When you play back home and when you play in Australian conditions, you have to change your tactics, change your lengths a little bit. Sometimes, keeping it simple and hitting the ball hard on the deck will be a good option.”