Mahela Jayawardene and Rohit Sharma for MI. Photo- MI Twitter
Mahela Jayawardene and Rohit Sharma for MI. Photo- MI Twitter

Former Sri Lanka batting great Mahela Jayawardene has opined that Rohit Sharma should have opened in the crucial match between India and New Zealand in their recent match of the T20 World Cup 2021 in Dubai on October 31. India lost the match by 8 wickets and is now in danger of being eliminated from the tournament in the league stages itself.

India made a couple of changes in their playing XI for the crucial New Zealand match as Shardul Thakur came in for Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Ishan Kishan replaced Suryakumar Yadav from the combination that lost by 10 wickets to Pakistan in their opening match.

However, interestingly, Kishan was also sent to open the innings with KL Rahul in place of Rohit Sharma, a move that baffled a lot of experts and on-air commentators as well, given Rohit’s excellent record as an opener in the T20I format.

Rohit Sharma. Photo- ICC
Rohit Sharma. Photo- ICC

Kishan made 4 runs before getting out and Rohit Sharma came in at no.3 and got out for 14 runs as India struggled to 110/7 in 20 overs. New Zealand achieved the target with 8 wickets in hand and got back their T20 World Cup campaign back on track.

You Can Be Flexible. But Not With Your Top-Three Batters: Mahela Jayawardene On Rohit Sharma Not Opening The Innings For India

Mahela Jayawardene, who is the head coach of the Mumbai Indians IPL franchise, which is captained by Rohit Sharma, was surprised at the Indian team management’s decision to open with Ishan Kishan.

Ishan Kishan. Photo- ICC
Ishan Kishan. Photo- BCCI

“You can be flexible. But not with your top-three batters. I think most teams if you take, you don’t have too much flexibility in that top three. They are settled. They are the ones who are going to give you that initial tempo, who are going to go about things. And then you have that guy at No. 3 who is going to glue things together and bat in both halves of the innings and the rest of the guys are the ones who will probably get floated in and around,” Jayawardene said on ESPNCricinfo’s T20 Time Out.

Jayawardene, who won the T20 World Cup in 2014 with the Sri Lanka team, said that Rohit’s role is to open the innings, and the team would be better served.

Rohit Sharma. Photo- ICC
Rohit Sharma. Photo- ICC

“That’s his role he plays in T20 cricket and Virat Kohli is either an opener or No. 3. I think KL Rahul would have been able to play that No. 4 role because he has that ability to change and adapt. In an ideal scenario, if India had a good start and had a settled thing, even Rishabh Pant could have batted No. 4 – given they [New Zealand] had a left-arm spinner [Mitchell Santner] and a legspinner [Ish Sodhi], he would have got more license to then play knowing that he had two-three batters behind him,” Jayawardene added.

Jayawardene opined that India asking their players to adapt to new responsibilities in the middle of a World Cup was odd and not having a steady, stable, settled set-up was the reason why India struggled in the tournament and after losing to Pakistan by 10 wickets, they should have not made such huge changes to the XI for New Zealand bout.

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