The three-match T20I series between Australia and Team India, led by Rohit Sharma, was evened when the hosts won the rain-shortened second T20I on Friday at the VCA Stadium in Nagpur by six wickets. Chasing 91 in eight overs, skipper Rohit shone with the bat, scoring 46 runs off just 20 balls, an undefeated knock, with the help of four fours and four sixes. Dinesh Karthik produced the winning stroke as Team India needed nine runs in the final over, smashing a six and a four. After the game, Karthik explained why Axar Patel was deployed in front of him in the first T20I and how he prepares for the game at a post-match press conference. “Look, I have been practicing over a period of time for this, and I have been doing it for RCB and I am happy doing it here. It is a consistent routine over a period of time. When I get off time, I get a lot of scenario practice. Vikram Rathour and Rahul Dravid have also been accommodating of how I want to practice, and what shots I want to practice. I have been very specific about it, I don’t practice too much, I just keep it as specific as possible,” said Karthik.
“Rohit Sharma played brilliantly. I got two balls, so I just tried my best there. To play such shots against the new ball, against top-class new ball bowlers, is not easy. It shows why Rohit is such a big player in world cricket, not only Indian cricket. His ability to play against fast-bowling is second to none and that is what makes him truly special,” he added. Karthik responded to the question of why he sent Axar ahead of him in the first T20I: “I understand this question. It is something we are trying. There are times they (management) feel that there could be a couple of overs where Axar Patel could target the spinner and take them on. That was the kind of logic at that stage and having a left-hander when a leg-spinner is bowling, it is a good match-up. We try and use that option sometimes, depending on how the game is unraveling at that point in time.” In place of Umesh Yadav and Bhuvneshwar Kumar for the second T20I, Team India substituted Jasprit Bumrah and Rishabh Pant.
Karthik explained the rationale behind adding an extra batter to the order by saying, “Today, we had four bowlers, unlike before, you could bowl two overs each. Four bowlers were required to finish eight overs, but we had five options. When you have five options that is the luxury of having a world-class all-rounder like Hardik Pandya. I think when he is there, you’re 11 gets balanced really well.” “That is what makes him so special that is where I think India has been really blessed. If he does well, it is always great for Indian cricket. Axar Patel also coming good with the bat will help India. That helps the balance of XI. Everyone knows about Rishabh Pant qualities, yes he could not bat but we all know what quality he brings to the table,” he stated further.