T20 World Cup: Challenged the batters by constantly telling bowlers to keep hitting back of the length, says Rohit


Melbourne, Oct 23

Long before Virat Kohli dished out a chasing masterclass of 82 not out off 53 balls in India's incredible four-wicket win over Pakistan in their first Super 12 match of Men's T20 World Cup at a sell-out Melbourne Cricket Ground, Arshdeep Singh and Hardik Pandya played crucial roles with their respective three-fers in keeping Pakistan to 159/8.

Last month, Arshdeep was viciously trolled on social media for dropping Asif Ali's catch in a tense Super Four match between the two teams at Asia Cup in Dubai. On Sunday, with the desire to make his team win, Arshdeep swung the early momentum in India's favour.

After Bhuvneshwar Kumar conceded just a wide in his opening over and found some swing, Arshdeep bowled a perfect first delivery in his T20 World Cup debut by trapping Babar Azam lbw for a golden duck with a full, straight delivery coming in from over the wicket.

In his next over, Arshdeep had another scalp when his short and angling away ball cramped a sluggish Mohammad Rizwan for the room. The right-hander attempted to hook at it but was hurried for pace and extra bounce as the top edge was snapped easily by the fine leg.

Arshdeep also became the first bowler to dismiss Pakistan's prolific opening pair of Azam and Rizwan for single-digit scores in the same innings. He then returned later in the innings and struck on the fourth ball of his second spell, bouncing out Asif Ali, who was awkwardly looking to fend away and gave the keeper a simple catch off the glove edge.

Pandya, on the other hand, was initially hit for some boundaries. But his return in the 14th over brought more cheer for India when he had Shadab Khan and Haider Ali holing out to the outfield within five balls.

Mohammad Nawaz thrived on width from Pandya, smashing a brace of fours through the off-side. But the all-rounder had the last laugh as Nawaz went for the cut, but was cramped for room and could only nick behind to the keeper. Arshdeep and Hardik led the way for India's brilliant use of the short deliveries, majorly in the back of the length region, to keep Pakistan for a score under 160 where 76m and 81m were square boundary sizes along with front boundaries at 82m, 80m and straight boundary at 79m.

Overall, the back of the length and short ball regions fetched six wickets for India, illustrating a nagging accuracy on a pitch generating swing and extra bounce while bowling tons of deliveries on the good length which yielded the most dots and contributed to stemming the run-flow of Pakistan, an aspect which pleased captain Rohit Sharma.

"That back of a length, slightly back of a length, slightly full, was not easy to hit, and what happened in today's game will tell you that. A lot of the guys got wickets bowling that back of length because, like I said, at the toss, as well, there was a little bit of grass on the pitch and a bit of weather, quite nippy, as well."

"So we knew if you keep hitting that length, it's going to be challenging, and that is something that we kept constantly putting in bowlers' ears, that challenge them -- if they hit you a couple of successful there, it's fine."

"Actually we got rewarded bowling that length, as well. Hardik in particular bowling that kind of length and a couple of their batters trying to play cross-batted short got the top edge, and we got the wicket, and that is something that we spoke of at the start," said Rohit in the post-match press conference.

In between, Bhuvneshwar and Arshdeep got to beat the batters too. "That felt really good. We spoke of certain things in our team meetings and stuff like that. We spoke of how we want to utilise our bigger boundary and try and challenge the batsmen a little bit. You've sometimes got to understand what the pitch is doing, as well."

"With the way, Bhuvi and Arshdeep were swinging the ball; our initial plan was just to try and pitch it up and see if we could get the ball to swing. The first four or five overs were brilliant to watch, honestly. For a little while, it felt like a Test match because of the way the ball was moving around and the carry in the pitch, as well. It was a good cricketing pitch," concluded Rohit.


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