'I don't agree with it': Batting coach Vikram Rathour's upfront reply to journalist's assessment of India's batting
As batting coach Vikram Rathour sat down to answer the media on the eve of the first T20I between India and South Africa in Thiruvananthapuram on Wednesday, the batting coach was sort of taken aback by a question from a journalist surrounding India's batting.
Since taking over as India's batting coach, Vikram Rathour has copped a bit of criticism but there is no denying the fact that his inputs have also benefitted India plenty lately. The change in their batting approach, where batsmen bat with a better strike-rate, aggressively and with intent, has been one of the reasons behind India's improved show and resurgence in T20Is. That they have beaten England, West Indies and now Australia, along with wins over New Zealand and Sri Lanka earlier, has been possible due to batsmen no longer consuming deliveries more than required.
However, as Rathour sat down to answer the media on the eve of the first T20I between India and South Africa in Thiruvananthapuram on Wednesday, the batting coach was slightly taken aback by a question from a journalist surrounding India's batting. The reporter felt that India have struggled to put up good totals while batting first – as assessment that can be termed a bit harsh.
"When it comes to setting targets, how do you look at tall scores leading into the World Cup given the big picture? When you walk out to bat first, what are the plans? Do the batsmen decide on the field as to what kind of targets you should set?" the journalist asked Rathour.
Recently, the Indian team may not have won too many matches batting first – as evident during the Asia Cup – but Rohit Sharma and Co. have managed scores of 181, 173, 192 and 208 in the first innings. It is another topic of discussion altogether that the bowling has lacked teeth and appeared weak with pacers not being effective enough. Which is why India have not been able to defend competitive totals, something that Rathour pointed out his reply.
"It depends on the surface that we are playing on. But when you say we haven't been able to put up scores, I don't agree with it. I think batting first, that was one of the concerns but since the last T20 World Cup, we have been putting par or plus-par totals everytime we have batted first. So I don't think that's an issue," he said.
"There is a visible shift in the way we are batting. The approach has changed a bit. We are being more aggressive. We are playing with better strike-rates and with more intent and that his pretty evident. As a batting unit, we have done well everytime we have batted first. We have been able to put up scores everytime."
Rathour addressed India's recent off-beat bowling, where he backed the under-fire bowlers. The likes of Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Harshal Patel have come under scrutiny following their lackluster bowling, more so since the T20 World Cup is roughly three weeks away. Rathour mentioned that the area is being worked upon, even though he did remind that almost everytime that India have lost while defending, the bowlers have taken the game until the final over, which is a testament to the quality they and the entire bowling unit possesses.
"We are trying to get better in that area. We are trying to get better at defending targets. But to be fair to our bowlers, the toss play a pretty vital role. Each time we have not been able to defend have been venues where there is dew, so it gets easier to chase. I won't be too harsh on my bowlers because if you see, they have been able to push the match until the last over everytime. It's just the one ball here and there,"