Shikhar Dhawan explains why Sanju Samson replaced Rishabh Pant and batted at No.3 in 3rd T20I

Shikhar Dhawan on Saturday explained the reasons behind India’s decision to play Sanju Samson and Manish Pandey in the thrid T20I against Sri Lanka at Pune, which they won by 78 runs to take the series 2-0. India on Saturday, made 3 changes to the side that beat Sri Lanka in the 2nd T20I at Indore – Sanju Samson, Manish Pandey and Yuzvendra Chahal came in for Rishabh Pant , Shivam Dube and Kuldeep Yadav. The decision to bring in Samson – 4 years after his T20I debut against Zimbabwe – in place of Pant was talked about a lot. What raised a few eye brows was the decision to send him at No.3 on Saturday.

India have tried six different players at the crucial number three spot in the last six matches. Asked about it, Dhawan said, “I’m sure the management wants to try players. Today also we wanted to try other players who haven’t batted in the series and give them a fair chance because we’re only left with five T20 (actually over 12) games.

“As a team, we wanted to give chance to everyone and that’s why they’ve been rotating players. Till World Cup comes, everyone is refined and know their job as well.” Samson started off his innings with a first-ball six but was LBW in the next ball.

Dhawan was then specifically asked whether the move by the team management was to give every player game time or there was a plan B for World Cup. To which he said, the idea was to give players more time in the middle.

“It is more to give players (time), like how Sanju Samson came in today (at number 3), then Shreyas (Iyer), so they can get more time in the middle, because it is a totally different field when you are batting in the match and having more overs and so that was the reason today.

“And last game was quite normal and before that I was not in the team, so I didn’t watch matches as well and I didn’t knew what was happening. But today’s one I can tell say that that was the reason.

“Even Manish Pandey went up. So they can have more time, otherwise same pattern going on,” Dhawan said, explaining the management’s rationale.

Even Pandey, who was warming up the bench series after series, played a responsible knock after being sent in at No. 4.

Dhawan said India are seeking complete mastery over defending totals, the ambition prompting them to make a “conscious” decision to bat first on winning the toss in a T20 World Cup year.

Invited to bat, India scored 201 for six before crushing Sri Lanka by 78 runs in the third T20 International here on Friday. Dhawan said that as a unit, the team wanted to bat first.

“Today we wanted to bat first because we want to refine ourselves more while batting first and winning more games, so that brings more confidence,” the opener said.

“So that is why, consciously, we are doing it and the result is in front of you that we are winning even while batting first.

“We are making (setting) big targets and that brings a lot of confidence to us as a team.” The Indian team management is looking at trying out different players for the pivotal number three position ahead of the mega event in Australia later this year, Dhawan said.

Dhawan also felt that the series like the one against Sri Lanka was ideal for experimentation.

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