'Batters getting 237 doesn't mean there's no scope for improvement': KL Rahul defends bowlers after high-scoring game
Indian vice-captain KL Rahul refused to term the death bowling a concern and said the bowlers had won India the last match in Thiruvananthapuram.
India vice-captain KL Rahul backed his bowlers despite them conceding 221 runs while defending 238 in the second T20I against South Africa at the Barsapara Stadium in Guwahati on Sunday. India started off just from where they had left with the ball. Deepak Chahar bowled a maiden to South African captain Temba Bavuma and then Arshdeep Singh dismissed Bavuma and Rilee Rossouw without troubling the scorers. Aiden Markram looked good but could not get a big one as he was cleaned up by Axar Patel for 33. South Africa were reduced to 47 for 3 in 6.2 overs with Quinton de Kock struggling at the other end. With the required rate climbing mountains with each passing delivery, India should have won the match by a huge margin. But they didn't. They won it only by 16 runs. The reason was David Miller and of course some lack of execution at the death by the Indian bowlers.
Miller smashed an unbeaten century, becoming the only batter in the world to hit more than one T20I century batting at No.5 or below. The left-hander put an unbroken 174-run stand with de Kock - the highest in the history of T20 Internationals for the fourth wicket or below for any team. It was also the highest partnership for any wicket against India in a T20I.
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Rahul, however, reminded everyone that the bowlers had to deal with, especially dew and a flat pitch. "Overall as a team there's a lot that we need to get better at. Not only for us but for all teams. These are great opportunities for all teams to experiment and to try and see what works for them. Just because we got 237 doesn't mean there is no room for us to improve as a batting unit. In the same way, there is a lot of room for the bowlers to improve as well. In the last game they restricted the team to 106 and today they went for runs. You have to take into consideration the conditions also, the pitch, it was humid, and there was dew, so it was hard for the bowlers to grip the ball. And when the opposition is chasing 240, you know batters are gonna come hard, try and smash every ball. It becomes a little difficult for the bowlers to execute their plans. That's the challenge for us as we play more games, that is something we talk about. As individuals, we practice hard to rectify them," he said in the post-match press conference.
The India vice-captain refused to term the death bowling a concern and said the bowlers had won India the last match in Thiruvananthapuram. "If it was such a big concern then I don't think we would've won as many games as we have. It's never that one skill that wins you games. It's always a team effort. Having said that, there have been games where bowlers have done well but in a format like this, you will have bad days. It's a high-risk game. Things move fast. We always want to keep getting better as a team. Today was one of those days when our bowlers couldn't execute 7 out of 10 balls or so but that does 't mean it will keep happening. This is something we need to learn and get better at," he added.
Earlier, Rahul and Rohit Sharma pretty much set the tone with the bat by putting together a 96-run opening stand in just 9.5 overs before the India captain got out for 43 off 37 balls while trying to slog sweep Keshav Maharaj. Rahul too went back an over later after scoring a brilliant 57 off 28 balls.
Then began the Suryakumar Yadav show of course with a lot of support from Virat Kohli at the other end. Suryakumar, who currently doesn't seem to put even a foot wrong while batting, smashed the South African seamers to all parts of the ground, smashing his way to 61 off just 22 balls. His 18-ball fifty was the joint-second fastest for India along with Rahul. If it wasn't for a mix-up with Kohli in the first ball of the 19th over then he could have piled on the agony for the South Africa bowlers.