India batter Shreyas Iyer on Sunday (June 12) defended the team’s strategy to send Akshar Patel ahead of designated finisher Dinesh Karthik in the second T20I against South Africa at Cuttack, saying the need of the hour was to "rotate strike".
Akshar came into bat in the 13th over at No. 6 when the hosts were struggling at 90/4 and the spin all-rounder managed to score 10 off 11 balls before getting out in the 17th over.
On the other hand, Karthik was sent to bat at No. 7 and the right-hander slammed 30* off 21 balls, including 2 fours and 2 sixes, to propel India to a modest 148/6 in 20 overs.
"It's something we had strategised earlier as well. We had seven overs left when Akshar went in, and he's someone who can take the singles and keep rotating the strike," Shreyas said at the post-match media interaction.
"Also, at that point in time, we didn't require someone to go in and start hitting from ball one. DK can obviously do that, but he has been a really good asset for us after 15 overs, where he can go in and start hitting straightaway," he added.
According to Shreyas Iyer, Karthik also struggled to get his timing right on a two-paced wicket.
“Even he was finding it a little bit difficult at the start. The wicket played a huge role in this game. And as for that strategy, we can and we will be going with it in the next matches as well," he stated.
Shreyas, however, acknowledged that the home team was around 12 runs short in the end.
"If I look back I think 160 would have been a really good score on this wicket to put them under a little bit of pressure. But we were like 12 runs short," he said.
Iyer was the top scorer for India with 35-ball 40 but he didn’t look comfortable on a two-paced wicket.
"It was really tough to be honest, I played 35 balls but I was not able to identify how the wicket was playing."
"I was trying to time the ball as well, I actually tried everything out there. But it was really difficult especially for the new batters to come in and get going," the 27-year-old said.
"On top of that the ball was staying low from one end, and from the other there was a variable bounce as well and the ball was seaming. I could not really talk much about it since every wicket can be challenging for us. But we don't blame it for the loss," he added.
Chasing the target, South Africa rode on Heinrich Klaasen’s 46-ball 81 to get over the line with four wickets in hand and 10 balls to spare.
With this loss, the 'Men in Blue' have put themselves in a perilous position, as the third T20I in Visakhapatnam would be a must-win game for them to stand a chance of winning this series.
(With PTI inputs)