“Not really. In all honesty, there were initial jitters.”
Rohit Sharma smiled sheepishly as he recalled Karan KC’s inquisitive examination of the new ball in the very first over of India’s chase.
Three times he was hit by nip-backers, and once he pushed weakly down the incorrect line. Karan was not only accelerating, but also establishing an excellent rhythm. As the fifth ball of the over struck the ground and straightened, Rohit was beaten with the angle.
Rohit was dissatisfied with his performance and appeared to have resolved to assault the bowlers. He stepped out to hit the first ball of Karan’s next over over mid-on before rain forced the players indoors.
Until then, it had been shaping up to be a compelling mini-battle between a bowler generating good velocity and a batter attempting to shred a transient lull that seemed to have bubbled over on Saturday, when Rohit was perturbed by Shaheen Shah Afridi prior to his dismissal.
Afridi was able to get past Rohit’s defense with a delivery that veered back in off the seam after having previously defeated him twice with deliveries that angled away.
Rohit brought his bat down a fraction of a second too late, at which point the off stump had been pushed back.
On Monday, Rohit appeared agitated on the field due to dropped catches, fielders allowing runs through misfields, and bowlers continually missing their lengths and being unable to conclude the innings.
This frustration culminated when Dipendra Singh Airee and Sompal Kami put together a fifty-run stand in the 32nd over to help Nepal recover from 144 for six.
However, Rohit’s batting form has not been a major cause for concern. In the first Test against the West Indies, he scored 103 in Dominica and followed that performance with two half-centuries in Port-of-Spain. His only ODI innings on that tour, 12 not out, was feasible because India collapsed in a heap while chasing 115 and Rohit had to come out, at No. 7, to conclude the job.
Before the Asia Cup, Rohit batted with a refreshing sense of independence at India’s camp in Bangalore. In a match simulation, however, the cost of losing a wicket is significantly lower than in a crucial match against Pakistan’s gun attack.
Prior to the Pakistan game, Rohit expressed the need to “use my experience” and fulfill his team’s requirements.
He explained, “Over the past two years, I’ve played a different style of cricket.” “I’ve taken many risks, but it’s essential to strike an equilibrium.
As a top-order batsman, it is essential to bat for a long time and put the team in advantageous situations.
“I intend to utilize my experience. Whenever we get a chance, when I’m in good rhythm, I don’t want to abandon it readily.
In the past one and a half years, I hadn’t given much thought to these; I was playing with a great deal of risk, but it’s essential for me to bring balance to my game.”
On Monday, there was the small matter of ensuring India did not trip up, as a Super Fours spot was at stake. So, when he returned to bat after the rain break with India pursuing a revised target of 145 in 23 overs, Rohit appeared confident in his strategy.
He defeated Nepal’s greatest threat, Sandeep Lamichhane, by employing the drag sweep to great effect.
He was equally effective playing the draw, his signature shot, and even ventured into the inventive by playing scoops and an unbelievable flick-scoop that, to his amazement, easily cleared the line at deep square leg.
“I had no intention of hitting it all the way to deep-backward square,” Rohit chuckled after receiving the Player of the Match award for his unbeaten 74. “I timed the ball really well, but the bats these days are really good.”
The ease with which Rohit flipped the switch was a real treat. After the rain delay, it no longer appeared that Rohit was apprehensive against the moving ball.
He entered T20 mode swiftly, choosing lengths early, raising good-length balls down the ground, threading openings behind point with his fast hands, and dismissing anything in his zone out of the ground.
He had no intention of merely serving as a foil to Shubman Gill, who had launched himself like a ballistic train with a series of spectacular back-foot blows. There was a ruthlessness in wishing to complete a task that had a shaky start.
Rohit would be the first to acknowledge that a solid shot in a competitive game is a box worth checking off in pursuit of that 2019 World Cup mentality, despite the fact that he wouldn’t put too much stock in a single performance, knowing that greater challenges await.