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Rathour backs India's gen-next for 'smooth transition'
Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Vikram Rathour, who served as India Men's batting coach till recently, has earmarked Shubman Gill and Yashasvi Jaiswal to form the backbone of Indian batting in the near future. Following the retirements of Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli from T20Is, the duo played a few vital knocks in the recently-concluded series against Zimbabwe.

India won the series 4-1 despite taking with them a second-string side, barring a few members who were a part of the recently-concluded T20 World Cup. As India looks to undergo a transition process following the retirements of Rohit, Kohli and Ravindra Jadeja, Rathour is hopeful that the next-in-line are ready for the challenge. However, he insisted that the transition needs to be well-managed.

"It is never going to be easy to replace people of Rohit and Virat's calibre," Rathour told PTI. "The recently-concluded [T20I] series against Zimbabwe gave us some glimpse into how the T20 team will look like in future. But we still have a few years in Test and ODI cricket to get to that point.

"I won't be too concerned about it [the transition]. We have a lot of depth in Indian cricket. There are lots of very talented and skilful players who are coming through the system. The only thing we need to make sure is the transition is done in a controlled manner. It needs to be gradual.

"I am hoping that by then, players like Shubman Gill, Rishabh Pant, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Dhruv Jurel, to name a few, would establish themselves and will make the transition smooth. In ODIs also, we have experienced players like Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul and Hardik Pandya to take over.

"There are many exciting players coming through but these two [Gill and Jaiswal] are equipped to play all three formats for a long time. They are going to be the backbone of Indian batting in years to come."

Rathour was especially effusive in praise of Rinku Singh, who missed out on an opportunity to be a part of the Indian team for the 2024 T20 World Cup despite proving his credentials at the international over the last year.

Since making his debut in August last year, in 23 T20Is, Rinku averages 83.2 and strikes at a rate of 176.27 - playing a crucial role as a finisher. His escalation to the international level came at the back of some stellar performances in the 2023 IPL season. However, Rathour shed light on Rinku's effectiveness as an all-format player.

In 47 first-class games, the 26-year-old Rinku has averaged 54.7. He has been equally destructive in List A cricket as well, averaging 48.69, at a strike rate of 94.80.

"When I see him bat in nets, I can't find any technical reasons why Rinku cannot be a successful Test batter," Rathour said about Rinku. "I understand he has made his name as a terrific finisher in T20 cricket but if you look at his first-class record, he is averaging in high 50s.

"He is also blessed with a very calm temperament. So all these factors indicate that if given an opportunity, he can develop into a Test cricketer."

Rathour also credited Rahul Dravid as being the best coach he has worked under and for being able to bring a change in India's fortune in T20 World Cups. "Rahul is the best coach that I have worked with, who gives you lots of space to work, is open to suggestions and will provide you an honest feedback," he said. "One of the first discussions we had was about changing the batting template in T20 cricket. We agreed that we needed to bring in more intent and aggression in our batting approach."

As an example, he pointed at the decision of playing Axar Patel and Ravindra Jadeja both in the XI, which added depth to the Indian batting. "That made a massive difference and gave the batters in top order lot more freedom to bat."