IND vs SA 2022-23, 1st T20I: 'Working on getting better at defending targets' - Rathour
India has struggled at defending targets of late, while its death bowling remains a concern. However, ahead of the South Africa T20Is, batting coach Vikram Rathour has affirmed that the side is working on getting better.
Defending targets in the Twenty20 Internationals (T20Is) has been a grey area for Team India. Still, batting coach Vikram Rathour cited "dew" being a factor that was not the case during the 2022 Asia Cup earlier this month in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Since getting ousted in the Asia Cup Super 4s, India has played six T20Is, winning and losing three each. However, all three losses (against Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Australia) have come while defending. Contrary to Rathour's insistence, none of the Indian team members blamed it on dew while talking to the reporters in the Gulf.
"We are working on that area of getting better at defending targets. But, to be fair to our bowlers, toss plays a vital role and every time we have not been able to defend are the places where there has been dew, so it gets easier to chase," Rathour said on the eve of the first T20I against South Africa in Thiruvananthapuram on Wednesday.
Rathour's reference could be the match against Australia in Mohali, where India failed to defend a 200-plus target. He was compassionate to the bowlers despite the criticisms they have been receiving lately. "I won't be harsh on bowlers, as they have been able to push the match till last over whenever we are looking to defend. It's a ball here and there, but of course, we are doing pretty well, but hopefully, we will get better," the former Indian Test opener expressed.
The batting coach also disagreed that India isn't scoring big targets while batting first. Asked if the batters have a specific target on their mind, Rathour answered, "Definitely, it depends on the surface that we are playing on, but when you say we haven't been able to put up good scores, I disagree with that."
"I think batting first was one of the concerns during the last T20 World Cup, but since then, we have been putting up par or par plus scores every time we batted first. So, I don't think that's an issue," added Rathour.
Bowlers know their plans
The batting coach also said that the team management never tries to coach people playing international cricket but instead facilitates them to back up their strengths. Someone like young pacer Arshdeep Singh is always advised to follow his plans.
"At this level, we are not telling them anything. Arsh [Arshdeep] has done extremely well in IPL [Indian Premier League] death overs, so we support them in following plans. They know where to bowl to each batter and follow their plans. We expect them [bowling unit] to back their strengths. There are no specific areas I want Arshdeep to improve, and he has the composure to handle pressure in difficult conditions," Rathour maintained.
Shift in batting philosophy
The top three Indian batters, KL Rahul, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli, were in the talks for their obsolete method in T20Is. However, Rathour is satisfied with their shift in mindset since the last ICC tourney. "There is an evident shift in the way we are batting. The approach has changed. We are trying to be more aggressive. We are playing with better strike rates and more intent. That is pretty evident. As a batting unit, we have done well," he proclaimed.
Adapting to Australian conditions is challenge
While giving optimum game time to the first-team starters in the 2022 ICC T20 World Cup remains a priority, the other challenge will be to adapt to the conditions Down Under. "Adapting to Australian conditions will be the biggest challenge that we have. We want to give as many opportunities as possible to those playing in the World Cup, but how that will happen depends on the game situation," concluded Rathour.
(With inputs from PTI)