The batting group is willing to come out of comfort zone: Bangar
Debasis Sen, Gros Islet: It may come us a surprise to see the Indian batting line for the third test match, but batting coach Sanjay Bangar defended the decision to play Rohit Sharma ahead of Pujara. The Indians made as many as three changes from the squad that played at Sabina Park. Rohit Sharma got his first opportunity in the series while Amit Mishra made way for Ravindra Jadeja and Bhuvneshwar Kumar came in for Umesh Yadav.
The inclusion of Rohit meant a change in the batting order as Kohli promoted himself at No. 3 while Rahane batted at No 4. Pujara got the axe following his successive failures in the last two tests. India’s batting coach Sanjay Bangar feel this current batting group is willing to come out of the comfort zone. Speaking to the media post days play, Bangar said, “The biggest advantage of this batting group is that they are willing to come out of their comfort zone and not just bat at one position. Whatever is asked of them they are willing to do and it is a very, very good trend to have of having a flexible line up. Someone like a Cheteshwar Pujara opened the innings in Sri Lanka and he got a hundred. And there have been numerous instances with Ajinkya Rahane being pushed at number three and then batting at number five as and when the team requires of him and it is a great thing to have that sort of flexibility. And the greater satisfaction is that you have a group of players who are willing to do that.”
The think tank preferred to stick with the same opening pair which meant Murali Vijay had to sit out even after getting fit. Bangar defended the decision of the team management to continue with Rahul and Dhawan. According to Bangar, “Vijay was available for selection and it was the management’s call to stick to Shikhar Dhawan because KL (Rahul) had a phenomenal game in the last match where he scored 150 and the team management felt that Shikhar had also done enough to keep his place in the team having scored a good 87 and then giving us the start in the first innings and negotiating the new ball in a partnership of 90 runs. So that was what went behind Murali Vijay not being able to break into the eleven here.”
The biggest gain for India in this series has been the batting of Ashwin at No 6. The off spinner went on to score his second fifty of the series apart from scoring a hundred in the first test at Antigua. A lot of credit should go to Bangar for working with him at the nets. “My role is not different from any other roles and I try to prepare them as well as possible. I try to keep them in a good head-space and make sure that they are as close to batting as their techniques allow them to. So that is a very small role that I play. And it is brilliant, it is just his third innings at No. 6 and he has never batted at six before the start of this series. So that’s an added plus for the team. Somebody we knew had a great potential with the bat but never did so at six, and having the knowledge that he is someone who started off as a top order batsman at the start of his career and contributed immensely for his state team as well. So it gives us options and already if you see the type of contribution the lower order is making it puts us in a confidence position whenever the team finds itself in a tight corner,” said Bangar about Ashwin.
He also praised Saha for his efforts with the bat in the series so far. According to Bangar, “We are not looking at personal landmarks but what we see is that the contribution a player makes, not necessarily a fifty or a hundred, but even if it is a vital 40 which he got in both the Test matches that he played as also the contributions he has been making in the lower order in the Sri Lanka series and South Africa series. So it is not related to personal milestones or landmarks but contributions that are really helpful to the team’s cause are really valued. And Saha has been a fabulous team player and is willing to do anything required of him and time and again he has consistently proved that he is a good enough player to contribute consistently.
Lastly, speaking on the end of day scorecard, the Indian batting coach commented, “I would say 234 on the scoreboard looks 234 but if you consider the state of the outfield – it is very slow – the ball softens up a bit in the middle overs and whatever runs you see being scored at a faster clip is when the ball is new and hard. You saw that in the first session and also in the last ten overs. So that’s been a trend and that is an aspect which we need to be aware of and assess where the team stands at the end of the day.”