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T20 World Cup: We need to find ways to deal with challenging New York wicket, says Vikram Rathour

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New York, June 6 : For the second time in as many games, a low-scoring match was played in the 2024 T20 World Cup at New York. After Sri Lanka were bowled out for 77 by South Africa, India’s bowlers were fearsome and relentless in bundling out Ireland for 96.

The nature of the pitch in New York once again became a huge talking point – there was excessive movement and variable bounce kept the batters guessing, though some like India captain Rohit Sharma took blows in a rather comfortable eight-wicket win for the side.

Vikram Rathour, India’s batting coach, admitted the pitch at New York for their first Group A game was challenging for the batters, but felt the side is ready to find ways to deal with tough conditions, especially with their next game against Pakistan on June 9 at the same venue.

“It is a challenging wicket as far as batting is concerned but this is what we have so we need to find ways to deal with it. Like I said earlier, we have enough skills and experience in the batting group especially to deal with that. We have enough good batters who can manage to bat well on any kind of surface. I think that has been our strength for many, many years.

“I think we can adapt really well to different conditions, and I think on this surface you really need to adapt well and take it head-on and not worry about it too much and you’re right – we have everybody fit, and they’re all looking good. They’re all batting well; so it’s a good space to be as a batting coach,” said Rathour in the post-match press conference.

He explained how India are well-equipped in terms of adaptability on seeing the conditions offered to them. “They have been playing T20 cricket together for a long time. I have always believed that our batting unit is very adaptable. We adapt to different conditions very well and that has been our strength for many years.”

“I’m not too concerned. We have played good tournaments; IPL is a competitive tournament and we have played a lot of cricket. So, we are not worried about skills. Adapting to the conditions, every team will have to adapt, not just us. I think that gives us an edge,” he added.

Asked if the toss become a little too crucial on a challenging Test-match style pitch like the one served for Wednesday’s match, Rathour replied in the affirmative. “I think the toss is crucial in conditions like these, but fortunately, we won the toss here so it was a great start, but you can’t again control that. So even if we lose the toss and we have to bat first, we still need to find ways to deal with the situation and the pitch.”

A welcome change in India’s batting strategy has been slotting in left-handed wicketkeeper-batter Rishabh Pant at three. In the warm-up game against Bangladesh, Pant made a fluent 52, indicating that he could occupy number three slot for the tournament.

Against Ireland on Wednesday, which was also his comeback game in international cricket after nearly 17 months, Pant made 36 not out, including finishing off the chase with a typically audacious reverse paddle-scoop for six over the keeper’s head.

“He has been batting really well. The two games he has played, he has looked really, really good. So yes, at the moment he is our number three, and it helps that he is the left-hander,” stated Rathour.

He signed off by praising Hardik Pandya for his spell of 3-27 in four overs. “Hardik looked really good. Hardik has been – I mean, even in the practice game and even in the practice, he’s been bowling really well. He looks fit enough to go through four overs and he’s been bowling with some pace and some accuracy, so, it’s great.”

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