Colombo: India’s batting coach Sanjay Bangar on Friday lauded his batsmen for adapting quickly to team’s requirements by coming out to bat at any position they are asked to.(Day 1 Report | Scorecard | Highlights)
“All the batsmen are willing to bat at any position which is a big plus of this team,” said Bangar after the first day’s play of the third Test between India and Sri Lanka, which was a near-complete wash out due to persistent rain, here today.
“They are willing to take up the challenge and come out of their comfort zone. They really challenge their abilities and test their skills in challenging conditions,” he added.
Bangar said the players’ willingness to bat anywhere in the order makes his work easier.
“I think once the decision is made by that particular batsman, it becomes just a matter of time of getting used to initial part of his innings and then it’s batting as usual. It’s just a matter of mindset and more the willingness of the players, the easier my job becomes,” said Bangar.
The Indian team management had reshuffled the batting order in the second Test against Sri Lanka, sending Ajinkya Rahane at number three and Rohit Sharma at five. Rahane had responded with a century while Rohit also chipped in with crucial runs.
Talking about his work with different batsmen at different positions, Bangar said, “Rahane is someone accustomed to batting at number four or five in Tests. So the ball is 25 overs old and you play on the up and your stride shortens a bit. We worked on getting a good stride for him so he has a stable base and he plays the ball as late as possible and close to the body.
“That worked for him in the second innings of the P Sara Test and he got off really well today too. But he got one good delivery and got out. That’s how cricket is.”
On the Cheteshwar Pujara opening the innings, the coach said: “We definitely work on specific sectors with specific batsmen. With Pujara, we definitely want him to get to the pitch of the ball as much as possible, using the depth of the crease to the deliveries that are really not well pitched up, and again honing his skills. Playing fast bowling is his strength.
“We want to make sure he gets enough balls to hit so if and when the opportunity comes, he’s ready and goes out there in the best possible frame of mind and contributes to the team’s cause.”
Sri Lanka today opted to field after winning the toss at the SSC wicket, which has been re-laid and the curator has left grass on the pitch to hold it together for five days. It worked almost immediately as KL Rahul was bowled to a sharp inswinger from Dhammika Prasad, a repeat dismissal from earlier in this series.
“He’s been playing in the domestic circuit for a while now and there the ball doesn’t do much after pitching. With the Kookaburra ball, it does a lot after pitching. It is something that Rahul is getting used to. We are working on a particular aspect of his batting and I think we will be able to sort it out very quickly,” said Bangar.
“The good thing about this series has been that it has been played on good tracks. There is a lot on offer for the bowlers, spinners as well as for fast bowlers. So it’s a sporting wicket with good grass cover on it.
“I expect the ball will seam around right throughout the game and it’s hard underneath. It makes for challenging cricket and the advantage of batting first on such wickets is that with a little bit of moisture basically slightly dents on the pitch, which could be of some use to us when we bowl on this track in the fourth innings,” he explained.
Persistent rain today prevented any play after the first hour at the SSC, where heavens opened up shortly in the morning session with India on 50 for two in 15 overs.
With series currently tied at 1-1, India would be chasing their first Test series victory on the Lankan soil in more than two decades but Bangar said it was too early to think about the result.
“I think it’s too premature to think about the result. We have hardly had one full session. It is evenly balanced and evenly poised if we manage to get over the initial hiccups and play out the difficult phase of the game. This is going to be a really hard fought and a tight Test match. We are not really looking very far ahead of us. We definitely want to come and try and bat well in the first session (tomorrow) and take it from there,” Bangar signed off.