Kolkata: India batting coach Vikram Rathour acknowledged that all-rounders Shardul Thakur and Deepak Chahar have been working very hard on their batting skills. He added that the advantage with enhanced batting credentials of Chahar and Thakur helps the team management in flexibility of structuring the playing eleven.
In the absence of Hardik Pandya and Ravindra Jadeja in the white-ball side, Chahar and Thakur have stepped up with the bat, scoring half-centuries as part of lower-order in different times during ODIs against South Africa and West Indies.
“Both of them are batting well. The reason for that is both of them work really hard on their batting. It’s not now but in the past few years, they have been working and practising hard on their batting. Now, you can see the result. So, really good to have two all-rounders. That gives us a lot of flexibility in what kind of team you want to play with. It’s good to see the competition happening in the team as well. They will be competing and are batting well,” said Rathour in the virtual press conference.
In the recent ODI series against the West Indies, India had players like Suryakumar Yadav, Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul and Rishabh Pant get runs in the middle order. Rathour was pleased that different batters in the middle-order stepped up after the top-order fell early.
“It was good, the ODI series we played in Ahmedabad. The wicket was a little challenging and was little tricky. It was good to see people stepping up after losing early wickets. We still manged to put up decent scores and won the series 3-0. It’s good to see people like Surya, Shreyas, Pant doing well in the middle-order. It was good.”
“It’s always beneficial when batters are in form. The more are in form, the better it is for the team. I have never been really concerned for our middle-order batting. Lately, we had been doing well in ODIs and T20Is with our middle order. That never has been a concern.”
Rathour felt that Pant, who had surprisingly opened in the second ODI at Ahmedabad, can be used well in the middle order. “We have options in many players. Rishabh is a fantastic player. He can play good cricket at the top of the order but it really depends on what the team needs, what we are looking at and where the team wants Pant to bat.”
“I have no doubt that he will be in team post-2023 and will be a very important factor too but we can utilize him more precisely in the middle or lower order, which can be very challenging. Left-hander in the middle order, we don’t have much options. Whether he will be useful there or at the top, we cannot really comment on that.”
Rathour insisted that the world is yet to see the full capabilities of all-rounder Venkatesh Iyer with the bat. Iyer, dropped from the ODIs against the West Indies after debuting in South Africa, is a part of the upcoming T20I series, starting from February 16.
“We are yet to see full (abilities) of him. He’s a young kid who has come into the team. He’s newly arrived. So, coming to the selection, it is the job of selectors to pick the squad. Opportunities have started to come for him. He’s a very good player and we all hope that he will do well and establish himself in the team in any format. We haven’t taken a call yet where he can’t play. He can come in any format.”
Rathour signed off by saying that their main focus will be to win the T20I series first. “We haven’t been to the ground yet. We are yet to look at the conditions and once we assess it, we need to have a look at the balance of the team. I understand experimenting but we still have a series to win.”
“I am pretty sure that West Indies will be a very competitive team in this format. We need to see the balance and then see what we can do. We want to give opportunity to youngsters but the first thing is to start well and win the series.”