Legendary India batsman VVS Laxman has heaped praise on Rohit Sharma’s leadership skills as the Mumbaikar led the Men in Blue to a 3-0 clean sweep against West Indies in the T20I series.
Despite the absence of regular skipper Virat Kohli and veteran wicketkeeper MS Dhoni, Rohit led the team from the front to inflict a whitewash over the defending T20I champions. While India won the first two T20Is comprehensively by 5 wickets and 71 runs, they defeated the Windies by 6 wickets in the final delivery of the third T20I.
In his column for the Times of India, Laxman wrote, "Twenty20 cricket is the Windies' most preferred version, and they have shown their liking for the game's shortest format by winning the World T20 on two occasions. Against that backdrop, they will look back on the three-match shootout against India with a great deal of disappointment, and not merely because Rohit Sharma led the hosts to a 3-0 sweep."
"Even though the Windies were without some of their big names, there still was enough firepower and potential in the emerging batsmen to leave their imprint. But they let themselves down in the first two games with questionable shot selection and a distinct discomfort against the left-arm wrist spin of Kuldeep Yadav. That their best batting performance came in the last match in Chennai, for which Kuldeep was rested, is telling. Even that, however, was not enough for them to leave Indian shores with a consolation victory," he added.
During the second T20I in Lucknow, Rohit notched up the world record fourth century in the shortest format to lead the foundation for India's stunning 71-run series-clinching victory.
"I was again mightily impressed with Rohit's captaincy. He is becoming a semiregular at the job, especially in T20 cricket, and handled his troops admirably. He is proactive on the field and has clear plans, but isn't afraid to improvise. He also continued to bat beautifully, and his fourth T20I hundred in Lucknow was one for the ages. I have seen few batsmen combine power and elegance with such nonchalance," Laxman wrote.
He was mighty impressed with the way Shikhar Dhawan returned to form ahead of the all-important tour of Australia. Dhawan (92) and Rishabh Pant (58) notched up brilliant half-centuries as India chased down West Indies’ target of 182 to win the Chennai T20I and complete a 3-0 whitewash.
"It was wonderful to see Shikhar get back among big runs ahead of the tour of Australia, and his partnership with young Rishabh Pant all but sealed the deal in Chennai. However, Pant must understand that what is his strength can easily lead to his downfall if he is not careful. While it is imperative to embrace natural freedom, he will be well advised to play high-percentage strokes, more so when he is adept at doing so," Laxman asserted.
Having taken five wickets in the two T20Is against the West Indies, wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav climbed 14 places to No.23 in the bowling rankings while Jasprit Bumrah jumped five places to No.21.
"Jasprit Bumrah was excellent as ever while Kuldeep is clearly among the best bowlers in white-ball cricket. What was pleasing was his control, even as he unfurled his vast bag of tricks. That the Windies batsmen had little clue which way the ball was turning was the perfect reflection of Kuldeep's mastery over his craft," Laxman concluded.
(With TOI inputs)