Rohit Sharma’s batting strategy change to make a half-century in a critical win over England

After a rain-delayed start, the covers were removed to reveal a dry, low-skidding circuit, making India the clear favourites. Nothing changed during the game, as India defeated defending champions England by 68 runs. As simple as it appeared, especially during the chase when England capitulated meekly, the victory was secured by a clever knock from Rohit Sharma, a smart display from Suryakumar Yadav, and momentum-seizing cameos from Hardik Pandya and Ravindra Jadeja.

Above all, Rohit led the way. With his thinking and talent. Rohit Sharma struggled to adjust to the pitch’s pace and (low) bounce for the opening four overs. Or rather, he was attempting to see if he could get away with batting in his customary attacking style. In England’s second over against Jofra Archer, an intended cut slipped through Phil Salt’s hands at backward point, resulting in a significant missed opportunity.

More fruitless tries followed: a couple of swipes across the line, one that sent the ball over the slips, and a few of missed cuts as the ball sunk under the flashing blade. Virat Kohli next stumbled, attempting an across-the-line heave that does not come naturally to him and has rarely hit.

Rohit Sharma's batting strategy change to make a half-century in a critical win over England (1)

It prompted Rohit to turn to Plan B.

Rohit sprung into action in the fifth over, as the left-handed Reece Topley rounded the stumps. It is a pitch that requires a batter to make a few modifications in order to hit. Either walk down the track like Gary Kirsten or Matthew Hayden without sacrificing shape, or manoeuvre the crease while staying low and hitting. Standing and driving was dangerous. Rohit can dash out, but he rarely does the more balanced walk-down-and-react stuff. So he chose the other choice. He initially advanced to the off side, crouching to swat a back-of-length ball to the onside boundary. He then moved his outside leg to force Topley to cover the boundary. Clearly, he saw the necessity to adapt to the pitch and perhaps reconsider the goal to be set.

Rishabh Pant recognised the danger that awaited batsmen who remained in their spots and attempted to drive past the line. The lack of bounce and slow pace aren’t conducive to that, and unsurprisingly, he miscued the aggressive on-drive, slicing it to short midwicket in the Powerplay’s final over against Sam Curran.

England then brought in Adil Rashid for the seventh over, setting up a battle of the middle overs between Rashid, Rohit, and co. Rohit wisely chose the sweep option, first executing a flawless reverse lap to the third man boundary. He lowered his back leg to the ground nearly instantly, just like Usman Khawaja, and reverse-tapped the ball to perfection. He immediately went for the usual sweep to ping the backward-square-leg boundary, anticipating the line shift.


Rohit Sharma's batting strategy change to make a half-century in a critical win over England (1)
Only one over later, however, the rains hit, forcing a 75-minute pause in play. On the penultimate delivery of the 11th over, Rohit walloped Liam Livingstone’s legbreak over long-on and chatted excitedly with Suryakumar Yadav shortly after the game resumed. The score was 86 for 2 in 11 overs, and the Indians began to push harder after Rohit recalculated the aim.

The 13th over from Sam Curran yielded 19 runs. Suryakumar began with an absolutely amazing six over point with a clever square-scoop, before Rohit dropped down on his knee and swept another six. Though Rashid bowled Rohit with a big-turning googly that also kept low, his dismissal would have boosted Indian spinners’ confidence in the dugout. Suryakumar also fell, blasting a slower ball from Archer down the neck of long-on, but with India deciding to demote Shivam Dube, Pandya and Jadeja finished off in style.

Pandya whiplashed Archer to the point boundary before turning on Jordan in the 18th over. A magnificent whiplashed pull sent the ball soaring over wide long-on before he arched his back and crashed over long-off. He collapsed while attempting to recreate the hit, but Jadeja cut and swept Archer to boundaries in the next over, and India completed with a very strong score. And the chase was done in a blink.

Rohit Sharma's batting strategy change to make a half-century in a critical win over England (2)


England batted as if they hadn’t learned anything from their previous failures on such tracks, despite having spent months in India beginning in December. India were, of course, too excellent for them, and the chase was ended after a couple of overs in which Jos Buttler shown desire and talent.

England fell apart from the moment Axar Patel entered the fray in the fourth over and Buttler exploded while attempting a reverse sweep off the first delivery. Buttler could have waited to see how an Indian spinner would react, but he was too keen to make an early impression. The ball bounced somewhat more, allowing him to remove his gloves and pass to Rishabh Pant on the dolly. English desperation was in the air, and they gave up without a fight.

You might choose any dismissal for the underlying tragicomedy. Jonny Bairstow’s reckless flail to an Axar slider that knocked out his off stump, Moeen Ali’s re-enactment of Tendulkar’s demise in the 1996 semifinals, setting for a single as the ball rolled off his thigh pad, only for Pant to calmly pick up the ball and flick out the bails.

Or Sam Curran and Chris Jordan’s dumb stuck-in-the-crease routine, which left them sitting ducks for Kuldeep Yadav’s LBWs. Most likely Harry Brook. England’s top spin batsman appeared secure until he attempted a reverse sweep and failed to connect with Kuldeep’s googly. And the comedic performance was complete when a misunderstanding with his partner Jofra Archer caused Liam Livingstone to flee by the proverbial mile. England’s game and competition are over.



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