Mahela questions Virat’s decision to demote Rohit Sharma


Virat Kohli’s decision to bring Rohit Sharma at No. 3, instead of his usual position at the top of the order, has not gone down well with Sri Lankan great Mahela Jayawardene, who has said that changing the top order makes no sense.

After the 10-wicket hammering at the hands of Pakistan in the opening ICC T20 ‘Super 12’ game, the team management decided to open with young Ishan Kishan and KL Rahul, while Rohit Sharma came in at No.3 and Kohli at No.4 in the match against New Zealand.

Despite the top-order changes, India lost the virtual do-or-die game by eight wickets, and are now at the mercy of the results of other teams to qualify for the last-four.

Jayawardene, who is IPL side Mumbai Indians’ chief coach, a team led by Rohit Sharma, said that, “You can be flexible. But not with your top-three batters.

“I think most teams if you take, you don’t have too much flexibility in that top three. They are settled. They are the ones who are going to give you that initial tempo, who are going to go about things. And then you have that guy at No. 3 who is going to glue things together and bat in both halves of the innings and the rest of the guys are the ones who will probably get floated in and around,” Jayawardene told ESPNcricinfo on Tuesday.

Jayawardene felt that India shouldn’t have tinkered with Rohit Sharma’s slot at the top of the order as that’s the role he has been playing all along.

“That’s his role he plays in T20 cricket and Virat Kohli is either an opener or No. 3. I think KL Rahul would have been able to play that No. 4 role because he has that ability to change and adapt.

“In an ideal scenario, if India had a good start and had a settled thing, even Rishabh Pant could have batted No. 4 — given they (New Zealand) had a left-arm spinner (Mitchell Santner) and a leg-spinner (Ish Sodhi), he would have got more licence to then play knowing that he had two-three batters behind him,” said Jayawardene.

“So rather than making all those changes they should have done just that subtle change — one in, one out — and then maybe one batter changing positions, rather than three batters changing their slots, would have made a bit more sense. Especially going against a very good New Zealand new-ball attack because it was always going to do a little bit in those three-four overs.”

The Sri Lankan stalwart said that players tend to get familiar with their slots after playing in a particular position for a long time, and displacing them can be disastrous for the team.

“If you batted them in those correct positions, they are familiar with those roles and they would have executed,” he said. “If they had failed in those roles, then that’s a question you can always ask. But if you are pulling guys away from those particular roles where they are quite familiar with, then it’s always going to be a tough one.

“Especially when you are going into a World Cup, you should have a steady, stable, settled set-up where everyone understands where if someone fails, that’s my role, to go in, consolidate and then kick on, get the tempo going again. I think that’s where India struggled. Especially having lost to Pakistan and then going into another big match, once you unsettle that, the fear of failure and all those thought processes creep into your game,” he added.

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