Arshdeep Singh aims to improve his consistency

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It’s been a busy 12 months for Arshdeep Singh, the T20I bowler. Since January 2023, no other Indian bowler has played more T20Is than Arshdeep (23) or taken more wickets than him – 29 at an average of 24.00 with an economy of 9.07.

He has, however, been inconsistent in his performances. He began 2023 by going for 37 runs in two overs in a T20I against Sri Lanka and ended the year by taking 2 for 13 in two overs in an ODI against South Africa.

“It’s been a mixed bag, these last 12 months,” Arshdeep said ahead of the third and final T20I against Afghanistan in Bengaluru. “There have been good performances, some average ones. I’d say that I have learned a lot and that experience is helping my game get a lot better.

“I am quite grateful that I am getting this experience, I have been getting a lot of backing from the support staff, from the team. I just want to reduce the ups and downs and be more consistent with my performances and get better results for my team.”

The last time Arshdeep was in Bengaluru for a T20I he wondered whether he “would be the culprit of the game”. As it turned out he was the hero, as he defended nine runs in the final over against Australia to help India clinch the five-match series 4-1.

It was a dead rubber then, and it is a dead rubber now, as India face Afghanistan having taken a 2-0 lead in the three-match series. But for Arshdeep and India, the scoreline is secondary, with this being their last T20I before the World Cup in June.

“Our mindset as a team isn’t what the series scoreline is, or what has happened in the previous match,” he said. “Our motive is to determine what the conditions will be like in the matches ahead of us and how quickly we can adapt to the pitch and get used to the grounds.

“It’s not as if it’s a 2-0 score or the series is done, that’s not our aim. Our aim is to improve our game one-two percent after every game and develop new skills.”

One of those skills is a new delivery he has been developing. “I have been working on a new ball, which will be beneficial on slower wickets,” Arshdeep said. “I tried that ball in the last match against the lefties, the ball that moves away after pitching like a leg-cutter. I want to develop more confidence and use that ball more in matches.”

How is he planning to contain batters at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru, where boundaries are short and 200-plus scores the norm?

“As a bowler, I feel we have nothing to lose here [at the Chinnaswamy],” Arshdeep said. “The batsmen are under pressure, they feel that they have to score more and more boundaries and that is where as a bowler you are in the game and can get wickets. You are always in the game where the wicket is flat and the boundaries are short. There are more options for getting a batsman’s wicket, so you are always on your toes.”

Trott: Don’t want Rashid rushing back from his injury

Afghanistan head coach Jonathan Trott said the team management will be careful to not rush Rashid Khan into action following his back surgery.

Rashid has missed the BBL, SA20 and now the three-T20I series against India. He is traveling with the team but isn’t fully fit yet.

“It is a case of us making sure that we are really careful with his back,” Trott said. “He is such an influential player, we have to make sure he is 100% ready and not rush him back from that type of surgery. It is important to give him the right time and he is working extremely hard and he is here with the team.

“He is very passionate and dedicated to the Afghan national side. When he is ready, he will be the first one to get on the field. He has got a few more appointments and check-ups to make sure everything is okay. So there is no real time frame. I hope it is sooner rather than later. But there is no pressure and no rush.”

Ashish Pant is a sub-editor with ESPNcricinfo

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