Ravindra sets T20 wheels in motion to pass test of adaptability between formats

February 25, 2024

Unfazed by selection concerns, he aims to become a multi-faceted versatile cricketer

Ravindra sets T20 wheels in motion to pass test of adaptability between formats

In the last few months, Rachin Ravindra has had breakout moments in both ODIs and Tests. He was one of the leading batters at last year’s ODI World Cup with three centuries, and a couple of weeks back converted his maiden Test ton into a mammoth 240 against South Africa.

The T20 format has remained a distinct third place in terms of where he looks most assured, but in the first T20I against Australia in Wellington on Thursday, he produced a significant performance with 68 off 35 balls. It was his maiden international fifty in the format, and just his second in all T20s across 48 innings.

The final tally was impressive, but what stood out even more was how it came from a difficult start. At one stage, Ravindra was on 14 from 16 deliveries. It was threatening to squeeze the life out of the power-packed start provided by Finn Allen, although Devon Conway was still going nicely on his crucial return to form. But then Ravindra’s pulled six off Adam Zampa unleashed the shackles, and he was away.

Five more sixes followed, including three in the 15th over off Zampa, as Ravindra took advantage of the short square boundaries. His fifty took just another 13 deliveries.

“Even just chatting with Dev is great. [He was] always making sure I’m not putting pressure on during that period at all,” Ravindra said. “Most grounds in New Zealand are very good wickets and the dimensions are slightly smaller. So you feel like if you really needed to get going, you could. Hopefully, I don’t start as slow next time, but the nature of the stadium [meant] you could catch up.”

“It says he has a hell of a head on his shoulders,” Lockie Ferguson said of the way Ravindra overcame the sluggish start. “He’s had a great year in all formats. Think [this innings] will probably give him a lot of confidence. He would say he probably hasn’t had the best start to a T20 campaign, but we know the talent that he has and can see it tonight with the sixes he hit. He’s got a lovely swing of the bat.”

It was only the second time after his debut T20I series against Bangladesh in 2021 that Ravindra had been given the opportunity to bat in the top three, so his limited returns to date need to be viewed in that context. Before Wednesday, he had shown glimpses of his hitting abilities previously, not least with a 13-ball 26 against Sri Lanka last season to help force a Super Over at Eden Park, although that came from No. 7.

Two weeks back, Ravindra was scoring 240 off 366 balls in a Test in Mount Maunganui, and a few days later trying to overcome an unexpectedly spin-friendly surface in Hamilton. Last night, his job was to flay an attack of Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins and Zampa in a T20I, so it has been a test of adaptability between formats, which is something he is trying to become accustomed to.

“T20’s the format I haven’t played as much as the other ones... so feel like I’m gaining experience from each performance or innings, and learning from guys around me,” Ravindra said. “Having guys around - like Dev, the power of GP [Glenn Phillips] and Daryl [Mitchell], [and] Kane [Williamson] obviously - [and] the way they go about switching between formats is a good model.

“It’s always a work-on thing, being able to chop and change between formats - especially internationally. Having a block of three T20s in between [two Test series] is interesting to say the least. But it’s good - [it] brings a bit of freedom, and you can relax a little bit. [The] consequences aren’t as heavy.”

The New Zealand management have also been wary of not overburdening their new prized asset, as Ravindra was rested for four of the five T20Is against Pakistan earlier this summer.

“I kind of found it hard to have that rest period,” he said. “It was a good conversation with the coaches because they saw I was potentially a bit tired. [From] August to December [last year] I was away from New Zealand, so it was probably needed at that point. At my age, you always want to play as much as possible, but that’s also something I’ve got to learn about myself.”

Ravindra picked up an IPL deal worth approximately US $217,000 with Chennai Super Kings at the recent auction on the back of his ODI performances and the promise of what was to come, rather than out of any overwhelming evidence from his T20 numbers. With the rest of this series against Australia and the IPL, it is a big few months coming up for him as he pushes to lock in a place in the T20 World Cup squad.

Currently, he is occupying Kane Williamson’s slot at No. 3, and with Daryl Mitchell to also return, followed by the middle-order hitters of Glenn Phillips, Mark Chapman and potentially Tim Seifert, Ravindra is probably fighting for the reserve batting position in the final 15 for the T20 World Cup in the West Indies and the USA.

Although he didn’t bowl in Wellington, his left-arm spin is an added string to his bow, particularly for a World Cup across a variety of venues where conditions may differ, as a team will want to cover as many bases as possible.

“Not even just looking at the T20 World Cup, being a multi-faceted versatile cricketer is what I want to be,” Ravindra said. “A genuine allrounder who can help the team in different ways and effect the game in different ways. That [selection] will all take care of itself; I’m not too worried about that sort of stuff.

“If I can take each game as a learning experience and drive the team forward, that’s what matters to me. If that cumulates in selection, then great. If it doesn’t, that’s okay. I’ve got a lot of time ahead of me.” —Cricinfo

Ravindra sets T20 wheels in motion to pass test of adaptability between formats