T20 World Cup: Rohit and Virat are key to India's success, says ex-fielding coach Robin Singh

by IANS |

T20 World Cup: Rohit and Virat are key to India's success, says ex-fielding coach Robin Singh New Delhi, June 26 (IANS) Come Thursday, India will be facing England in the 2024 Men’s T20 World Cup semi-final at the Providence Stadium in Georgetown, Guyana, to decide who goes into the title clash at Kensington Oval in Barbados on Sunday. While England are aiming to become the first men’s team to retain a T20 World Cup despite not having a smooth sailing so far, an in-form India have won every game in the tournament till now. The last time these two teams met in the semi-finals of a T20 World Cup, England outplayed India by ten wickets at the Adelaide Oval. Robin Singh, the former India all-rounder who served as the side’s fielding coach from 2007 to 2009, speaks exclusively to IANS on the role of openers from both teams’ in the all-important semi-final, the impact of weather, a change in India’s batting approach, and more. Excerpts: Q. The other day against Australia, Rohit Sharma smashed a stupendous 92. How crucial will he be again with the bat in unsettling the England bowlers? A. It’s going to be important; as we know, that was a really good batting wicket at St. Lucia, and it suited his style of batting more than anything else. Of course, he played exceptionally well, without a doubt. It was one of the special innings so far and probably one of the best knocks in this World Cup till late. Going forward, that can only be good for the team. As I said earlier, the openers are very crucial. I am hoping that Virat Kohli can actually come in and do a similar job, because I think these two guys are very key to India’s success. So if any one of these guys can take it through, I think you're in a good space to get a big total onboard and give the bowlers a great chance of winning the game. Q. Likewise, Jos Buttler and Phil Salt have been churning out big knocks for England. How much those two going to be important for England in Guyana? A. Look, they will have to put runs on the board, right? India has a good and long batting lineup. So if they don't put enough runs on the board, I am pretty confident that the Indian batting line-up can handle the England bowling attack. So they will have to put a good score on the board. I think Buttler definitely becomes a key factor. The first two or three guys are always key in T20. If we can make some inroads into that because India has a good bowling line-up, especially in the middle overs, it will make a huge difference to winning the game in India's favour. Like any big game, you need the big boys to step up, right? We saw how Rashid Khan stepped up, and he made a huge difference in Afghanistan’s win over Bangladesh. So you need the big boys to step up. If we can get a good start with Rohit and Kohli, and one of them can bat deep into the game, I think we're well on our way. Q. There has been a lot of talk about rain and thunderstorms hugely affecting the semi-final clash. How does that change the equation for the Indian team in terms of their decision-making and strategies? A. As we know, in Guyana, the wickets can be quite dicey at times. Sometimes it stays a little low. It's not as true a surface as one would get. So, that venue is a little bit of a tricky venue, and the weather conditions can play a big part. I think you'll have to see it on match day (how the conditions are), and the toss will become crucial, I think. I think India is in a relatively good position at the moment. You can't really bother about the rain. If you start focusing only on the rain, you can have a plan, but it cannot be the only focus. You have to focus on thinking that there is no rain, so how do we counter this situation? Look at four or five approaches that you would like to take and understand which is the best approach to take. As of now, I think they're playing really good cricket. Most people understand their role, and others know all the roles that they're playing. Some people are playing one, two, three different roles, and I'm quite happy. Like, it's really nice to see someone like Rishabh Pant taking on the bowling and playing the way he's playing. Q. Do you reckon there will be a change in the make-up of both teams’ playing elevens’ due to rain? A. I think it will probably be an odd change. No team at this stage is going to make any massive changes. At maximum, it will be just one change. If not, they will probably go with the same eleven that they think can win the game. So I'm in no position to say what change they can or will make because we are not there looking at the conditions first-hand. We are only speculating. So that way, you have to see who they have sitting on their bench, what is their squad is like, and who are the people who they trust most in the semi-finals, as that is more important. Everyone has skills, everyone should be able to deliver, and you want the big players to step up on that day. Q. This semi-final is a repeat of the 2022 last four clash, where India’s score of 168 was not enough to get them the win. In this tournament, they have embraced a more attacking approach. In your opinion, what has been that big change in India’s batting approach in 2024 as compared to 2022? A. Look, I can't remember that game, to be honest. All I know is that what we have in the Indian team's batting lineup, they have played very positively. They are not going to change their style, right? It's just that you have to understand when the danger is there and be a bit watchful. So you need to know when to attack in T20, and need to know when to hold back a little bit. Some teams go all out attack, and they fall into trouble. That's where you need to ensure that you don't get into trouble. So because you can always make up in this game, you have the time to do it. It's just that a lot of teams try to overattack, and they run into a lot of problems and get way below par score. So the first thing is to understand, what is a reasonably good score in the conditions or on the surface that you're going to play against an opposition that you think you can take them out with your bowling attack. I'm pretty sure they will have their game plans for these things. If they can understand those things and execute them more often than not, you get a chance of winning the game. Q. A word from you on India’s fielding in the tournament – despite some dropped chances, they have taken some spectacular catches and been good in ground fielding. A. We need to keep the fielding consistent. I mean, there are a few guys who can do brilliant stuff, but I think it's important to keep it consistent throughout. When there's an opportunity to do something special, you try and see if you can do that. So you can make a difference in the field by taking a brilliant catch or creating a run out. Sometimes you don't have to do much, but you can create a runout to put some extra pressure on the opposition. It's got a lot to do with anticipation, being in the game-focused, just like batting, you need to be really switched on when you feel a chance is coming. I think they've done that really well. I think the last game against Australia, where Axar Patel took that spectacular catch to dismiss Mitchell Marsh, was right up there. Not easy, definitely; not an easy catch to take. It's a good thing to have (the best fielder medal), and it's nice to have an incentive. --IANS nr/bc

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