India’s batting coach Sanjay Bangar tried his best to defend Rohit Sharma’s repeated failures in Test cricket stating that the Mumbaikar deserved the same patience which Sri Lanka showed towards their greats Marvan Atapattu and Kumar Sangakkara.
Rohit, who was dismissed for 1 on the opening day of the ongoing fourth Test against South Africa, was guilty of losing his wicket to a poor shot.
His shot-selection at a critical juncture was widely castigated as India ended the day at 231/7.
Given the situation, Bangar’s example of Sangakkara seemed out of place as the recently-retired legend never failed in so many opportunities for Sri Lanka.
“There are certain times, wherein some players do take time to blossom. Best thing about Sri Lankan cricket is how they persisted with Marvan Atapattu and Kumar Sangakkara. Because, they (SLC) stuck with them (Atapattu and Sangakkara) for long period, they served the country for long with great distinction. Patience has to be shown with players as they are bound to deliver for the team,” Bangar said trying to defend Rohit, who has often brought his team under pressure with rank bad shots.
For the record, Sangakkara never had a prolonged failure nor did Atapattu after the first five ducks in six first-class innings as he had six scores between 50 and 150 in the next 15 innings.
“Definitely, we make players aware about shot selection, whether tactical or technical. All these three things we make them aware about and where the deficiencies are creeping in,” the former India all-rounder said when asked about the batsman’s repeated mistakes.
Bangar, in fact, took refuge in Rohit’s ODI and T20 hundreds, stating that a player “hurts more than anybody” after a bad day in office.
“I want to say that the current lot of players that represents India are immensely talented and committed. They work very hard to reach where they are. Surely days like these, when players make mistakes, they must be equally hurting, most committed players do,” Bangar said in his defence of Rohit.
“He (Rohit) is coming off a T20 hundred, an ODI hundred. He hasn’t really got to play lot many Test matches in a row. That always plays (in the mind) as far as batsman is concerned. I think as I have been saying earlier, that you show faith in him, give him successive opportunities and then assess him. Whatever he has done in longer format, he would definitely want to do more,” Bangar put it mildly about the player’s under-performance.
As far as hero of the day Ajinkya Rahane is concerned, Bangar credited his judicious shot selection and patience at the crease but also maintained that he would be playing at No 5.
“I think what has been happening in the past two Test matches, he (Rahane) was slightly hurrying through his shots earlier on, in his innings. But he reworked his strategy a bit and is willing to spend time in the middle during initial stages waiting for the loose balls.
“This may sound very cliched but that’s the key to batsmanship in longer format where you need to give initial time to the bowlers. Get used to the pace of the wicket and this was a classic example of how you could do it. All credit to Ajinkya for the way he turned out after first two games with low scores. It speaks a lot about his character,” Bangar was full of praise.
About Rahane being promoted, the former Railways captain said, “He was promoted for a brief period in Sri Lanka. That was the time when we were missing our specialist openers. Shikhar and Vijay got injured. Because of that, the team had to push Cheteshwar Pujara to open the innings and Rahane had to bat at No 3. But No 5 is the position that team is looking for him.”
The batting coach termed the track as a typical Kotla pitch.
“I think this is a typical Kotla wicket. Low bounce, it’s quite firm and played really well. All in all, a very good wicket to play Test cricket.”
The only time Bangar seemed to protest was when asked about the team’s failure to post 300-plus scores in recent times.
“If my memory serves me right, I think in the past three series, we have scored 15 to 16 hundreds. As a touring team in Australia, this team has crossed 400-run mark on all four occasions. After that even performances in Sri Lanka were enough to win Test matches for you as well as here.
“I think if we are scoring more than 1 run more than the opposition has done, I think, in larger interest result is coming. We definitely are getting the results that we want,” Bangar begged to differ.
About an ideal first innings score, Bangar said that batting the first session tomorrow would be key as lower-order has been contributing of late.
“If we could bat one more session, it will be a very good effort. Positive thing that has emerged in this series during the past few matches is how the lower order has contributed. It used to be an issue earlier when lower order did not used to contribute much. But the manner in which lower order has improved from Sri Lanka, we should take it as positive step,” said Bangar.