Batting coach Vikram Rathour turned down the notion that India might think of giving a go for Rishabh Pant to break the pattern.
Excerpts from Rathour’s pre-match press conference.
Q: This wicket is a bouncy and the South Africans might play four seamers. Could India also go with the same strategy of playing all four seamers?
Rathour: We already have four seamers, I think, so nothing changes, at least for us, I don’t think. I don’t think so.
Q. Going by matchups, Axar’s record against South Africa hasn’t been great, and they have three left-handers in their top six, Rillee Rossouw, David Miller and Quinton de Kock. Is the team management taking that into account?
Rathour: I’m sure everything will be taken into account. We haven’t really sat together yet to discuss because we haven’t been to the ground yet. Once we look at the team and the conditions, I think all the discussions will take place, and then we’ll try and pick the best team that we can.
Q. KL Rahul has not made many runs in the last couple of matches, so do you think bringing someone like Rishabh Pant at the top of the order?
Rathour: No, we’re not really thinking that. Two games, I don’t think that’s a good enough sample size anyways. He’s been batting really well and he’s batted really well in the practice games, also, so we’re not looking at any such thing at the moment.
Q. How do you rate the Perth pitch? Have you had a look at it?
Rathour: It seems to be a good wicket. I think Melbourne was tough, but I think what we’ve seen, this looks better, more even paced and more even bounced, so let’s see how it goes.
Q. What has gone into the making of Virat’s recent form post-Asia Cup? He has started the innings slowly but has finished off well. Has that been a conscious decision?
Rathour: Not really. I think that depends on the conditions we are playing on. We pride ourselves to be a team which will take the conditions and situation into account, and that’s what we’ve been looking to do. I think the conditions demanded him or the situation demanded him to play in a certain way, and he’s done that. He’s a good enough player to change his game or adapt his game to whatever the team requires, and he’s done that brilliantly so far, and we know that he’ll carry on doing that.
Q. Everybody has been talking about the pace and South Africa’s pace attack, but there hasn’t been two back-to-back games played here yet, and yet the spinners have been getting a lot of purchase, like Shadab Khan, then even in the Afghanistan-England match. Is team India looking at it from a different perspective that where everybody is talking about pace, we can dominate with spin?
Rathour: As I said, we haven’t really looked at the wicket yet, and you’re right, we are playing the second game, so that will give us maybe more insight on how the wicket is playing on the day. All the decisions will be taken, keeping everything in account and thinking about everything. We’re not ruling out anything at this stage yet.
Q. South Africa and India have already played seven T20s this year, but all of them were back in India. Does that have any bearing in terms of the familiarity, even though the conditions are different here?
Rathour: Yeah, definitely the conditions are different, but again, as a team, as a batting unit or as the complete team actually we pride ourselves being able to adapt, and that is what good international teams should be able to do anyway, so looking forward to playing in these conditions, and let’s see how the game goes.
Q. Since the last T20 World Cup, India’s batting had become more forceful in the early stages and trying to go harder throughout, but in this World Cup we have seen a little more conservative starts. Is it like a team decision, or is it just left to the batters in the middle how to go about it?
Rathour: That’s what I thought I said earlier, also. We are looking to adapt. Of course, playing with intent is always the goal. We are looking to score runs whenever we can. But then we need to keep in account the conditions that we are playing on, the surfaces we are playing on.
I don’t think these are 200, 200-plus wickets, so we’ll need to adapt, and I think we have done pretty well in that regard so far.