Batting coach Vikram Rathour on Tuesday (January 28) called the new generation of Indian cricketers “incredible” and said the team management has already identified the core of players for the T20 World Cup in October-November.
Rathour was speaking ahead of the third T20I between India and New Zealand at Seddon Park on Wednesday, with the Men in Blue leading the five-match series 2-0.
“Adjustments will keep going on till the last minute. But as far as I am concerned and the team management is concerned, we have the core. We know what our team is going to be. Unless there is a case of injury or really bad loss in form, I don’t see many changes happening,” said Rathour.
With one eye on T20 World Cup in Australia, India have been on experimentation mode since the start of the home season in September last year, giving opportunities to host of youngsters including Shreyas Iyer, Washington Sundar, Deepak Chahar, and Shivam Dube.
The T20 team has been doing really well in New Zealand and the young guns have contributed significantly to its success, leaving the batting coach hugely impressed.
“This new generation of cricketers is incredible. I find it amazing actually that they turn up and they are at their best straightaway across the different formats, different grounds, and different countries actually. The amount of time they took to get settled (here in NZ)) was outstanding actually, he said.
India won the twin matches in Auckland thanks to brilliant outings from KL Rahul and Iyer. The batting coach expressed satisfaction that the younger batsmen are stepping forward for the team’s cause.
“The more opportunities that these guys get, they are showing that they are capable of. They are showing that they are match-winners on their day. That will help the team, of course, but it will also help their confidence.
“Having seen KL (Rahul) and Shreyas as young cricketers coming through, in my mind, I have absolutely no doubt that they are match-winners. They are getting their opportunities now and they are showing the world what they are capable of, that is great to see,” he said.
Rathour feels Iyer’s mindset makes him a better player.
“Apart from having those (batting) skills, I think the mindset is amazing. He (Iyer) believes he is a big player, and he is, without any doubt. He genuinely believes that he is a match-winner and he is here to stay. And that mindset I think helps him, that is the biggest advantage he has,” he said.
When asked about the ability of the current generation to learn from the IPL whilst maintaining percentage shots as big hits, Rathour said, Big power-hitters and all, that time was there initially, people used to think T20 is more to do with power-hitting but it’s not the case anymore. Proper cricketing shots, you still get value for shots.”
Talking about the adaptation needed from one format to another, the coach said: “Players play so much cricket these days, all three formats consistently, day-in, day-out, they are making these adjustments on their own. The game of cricket has changed with time. Even in Test cricket, big shots are common. I don’t think it is that big a difference.
“It is more of a mindset thing and about game plan. As a coach, I don’t think we really need to tell them anything. They are doing it on their own. They are stronger, fitter than from our generation. You can see that they are hitting big sixes and without any effort, that way the game has changed.”
The next three games at Hamilton, Wellington and Mt. Maunganui will be played at regular-sized grounds unlike Eden Park in Auckland. Rathour hinted that there won’t be many alterations to the team’s strategy, apart from the bowlers firming up new plans as per conditions on offer.
“You look at the conditions and go. It (Seddon Park) is a bigger ground, it is a regular ground, but we are still looking to play normal cricket, good cricket. I don’t think it alters anything. Maybe for the bowlers with their lengths, but with the batters, it doesn’t make any difference.
“On bigger grounds (like in Australia), running between wickets will cover the game plan. A good game plan is about players who look at the situation, conditions, and accordingly bat. If we play on bigger grounds, I am sure this team is capable of running twos and threes and adjust their game accordingly, he said.
Since his appointment as batting coach of the senior team, a part of Rathour’s brief has been to bring up the younger batsmen in the side. In that aspect, he expressed satisfaction in terms of how the younger generation is coming through via A-tours.
“A-tour helps a lot. In case of any injuries, if you are looking for any replacements, we know players are here, just a city away. They can immediately come in and they are already acclimatized to the conditions. I think that’s a great idea and that’s working really well for our team.
“The foreign pitches are getting more even and even. There is not that vast a difference now like it used to be earlier. And the amount of cricket these guys are playing, as a coach you can’t do anything about not having practice sessions but they are adjusting beautifully.
“Nobody is cribbing, no one is complaining. You don’t see anyone talking about grass on the wicket, moisture, etc,” he added.