Rohit Sharma led Team India to the Asia Cup 2018 triumph in absence of Virat Kohli, said that he wishes that candidates for no.4 and no.6 spots should get more opportunities in the next few months, even if team dynamics change when Virat Kohli takes over the leadership.
"The guys who were here had the ability to win matches for the team," Rohit said. "They've won matches for their state or IPL teams. No one took extra pressure because some players weren't available. We want to create an environment where boys come in, play carefree, and not think that this is an international match and we need to change our game.”
"As a management, it is our duty to give the players that freedom to go play like they play at the club or domestic level. At the start of the tournament, we discussed this and gave them a clear message: 'treat this like you're playing for your domestic team, nothing to change.' It was very important to give them this message, to ensure there's no insecurity within," Rohit said.
India gave six straight opportunities to Ambati Rayudu, Dinesh Karthik and Kedar Jadhav to further strengthen their cases for a middle-order berth with next year's World Cup in mind.
Rayudu displayed his versatility in batting at different positions scoring a half-century apiece as an opener and at No. 3 against Afghanistan and Hong Kong respectively. Karthik made 146 runs in five innings at No. 4, largely playing the role of an accumulator. Jadhav impressed with his wicket-taking abilities in the middle overs, apart from making a crucial unbeaten 23 in the final despite an injured right hamstring.
"I think we pretty much have clarity. Those at No. 4 and No. 6 need to get more games as the World Cup comes closer," Rohit said. "It's too early to judge or say they've sealed the spot. I shouldn't be saying that because right now is not the time. The next few tournaments that we're going to play will probably be ideal for us to judge as a management and see where they stand.”
He further said, "When we came here, I wanted to give them the assurance first that they will play all the games. That's how you make players. You give them the assurance of going and playing freely without taking pressure. If you know that you're going to be dropped after two games, it's not easy for anyone. I think it is important to keep that team consistently going, and that is something that we spoke at the start of the tournament. I wanted to give everybody a fair run and play more games. That's how you will understand a player's capability because in one-odd game you can't judge. You need quite a few games."
Rohit was reasonably happy with the middle order's performances and said, "As far as the batting goes, middle order didn't get as many chances as we wanted them to, because the top-order batsmen batted quite a lot in the tournament," Rohit said. "But whenever they've got chances, they've shown signs of handling pressure well. It's a different issue that they didn't finish it off, but I think they handled the pressure well."
"Bhuvi is a very crucial member of the squad. Not just now, but for a few years. In Sri Lanka too, he got a fifty and had a big partnership with MS to win the game. Even today, his runs were so crucial. He understands that the team wants him to bat as well, and not just bowl. If any player in your team can provide you with something else apart from their main skill, it makes your team better, so that's what we all look forward to from each player. He takes his batting very seriously," Rohit said of Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
Rohit was also all praises for Ravindra Jadeja and said, "I clearly remember, he flew in the night before the first game and got four wickets immediately. Even today, he didn't bowl 10 overs, but his batting and fielding abilities are very, very crucial to the team. I think what he did on the fields, that run-out of Mithun was the turning point. I think that is something that gave us a way to come back into the game. Also as a team we understand what sort of a player he is, what he brings to the table. His batting again today, although he made around 25-odd, it was so crucial. In the context of a match, it was as good as scoring a half-century."
(inputs from ESPNCricinfo)