His technique against pacers was solely missed on a seaming track here and India stand-in- skipper Rohit Sharma admitted that accommodating Ajinkya Rahane was tough as he is considered a specialist opening batsman in the 50-over format by the team management. Rahane, who scored four successive half-centuries against Australia, was today left out of the playing XI in the first ODI against Sri Lanka, while Shreyas Iyer was handed a maiden cap at No. 3 and Manish Pandey was picked for the No. 5 slot. “I think we made it clear in Sri Lanka that he is an opening batsman and we don’t want to keep changing his batting slot. It plays on anyone’s mind not just his, if one’s batting order is kept on changing. “We have identified him as an opening batsman and that’s the only reason he had to sit out. Having said that we understand the runs he scored in the past few series. But we wanted to give these guys Pandey, (Kedar) Jadhav, Iyer fair amount of game before we start touring abroad. It’s important that they take the opportunity,” said Rohit at the post match press conference after India went down by seven wickets.
After India were bundled out for 112 in 38.2 overs, the islanders crossed the target in 20.4 overs. While none of the Indian batsman could put up a fight, Mahendra Singh Dhoni stood amid the ruins with a gritty 65 and Rohit heaped praise on the former skipper. “He has been at that situation so many times and has proved himself again and again. First of all, I never understood why there was a talk of he being in our plans or not. Once he gets runs the whole conversation changes. “He showed us again. I wish one of our top order was batting, so that we could have got more runs. But we learn from it and move forward,” said Rohit. Asked if India’s batting collapse is a cause of concern considering that India would be touring South Africa for a Test series under same kind of conditions, Rohit said: “This is a one-day side, I don’t think there is any comparison.
“With the Test team we struggled in Kolkata as well but any team in those type of conditions will struggle. I have seen enough cricket and we recently saw Ashes as well, what was happening there as well.” Defending India’s inexplicable batting collapse, Rohit said Sri Lankan bowlers used the tough conditions to their advantage. “In conditions like these, only one or two batsmen will score, not all batsmen will score runs. I don’t think we played any rash shots, but they bowled at the right channel, kept us guessing all the time and batsmen were made to play all the time. “We knew conditions were going to be tough but sometimes when you are put in such situations, you have to bat the situation, which means we got to respect the bowlers. This experience will teach us a lot of things as a team. We take it in our stride and move forward. Again if we are put in that situation we will respond better,” said the captain.
Rohit applauded Lankan pace troika of Suranga Lakmal (4/13), Nuwan Pradeep (2/37) and Angelo Mathews (1/8), who rattled the hosts with a fine display of swing bowling. “Credit should go to the Sri Lankan bowlers, they made full use of the conditions. But as a team, as a batting unit, days like these will teach us a lot of things, not always we will play on flat conditions and we as a team want to thrive in such conditions and come out on top,” he said. “If you notice, any bowler bowling in that channel would have got wickets. For us we were trying to survive in those conditions because we knew that if initial overs we get over, wicket will get better but we lost wickets and we were also not scoring in that pace, so that put us in even more trouble. “It is an eye opener, we will learn from it. It is a young batting group, these guys, including myself, will learn and play out of these situations well next time,” Rohit insisted.
On Jasprit Bumrah dismissing Upul Tharanga on a no-ball, Rohit said it didn’t cost India the match as there was not enough total on the board in any case. “We lost the game with the bat and not with the ball. It will be unfair to single out one individual, especially a bowler. I think we as a batting group failed. Nobody knew it will happen but this is the game that we play and they go out there trying their best. “I wouldn’t say it cost us dearly, because there was not enough total on the board. If we were defending 180-190, but if you are defending 110, you can hardly do anything except with the new ball and comeback into the game.”