K.L. Rahul, on Saturday, had a second successive failure with the bat when he dragged a length ball off Jason Holder back onto the stumps early in the first innings. This came close on the heels of a first over duck against the same opposition during the first Test in Rajkot. But Team India batting coach, Sanjay Bangar, feels there's no need to press the panic button yet.
“Yes, he has had issues with the ball coming into him. I don't think today's (Saturday) dismissal had anything to do with his technique; it was a fourth stump ball and he was trying to leave it. These dismissals [in Rajkot and Hyderabad] have happened early in his innings but if he starts getting out in this fashion, once he crosses 15-20 runs, that'll be a cause of concern for me. Rahul has been working really hard on his batting,” Bangar said after fifties from Ajinkya Rahane and Rishabh Pant put India in a commanding position in the second Test.
Rahul, who made his Test debut against Australia in Melbourne in 2014, has 1815 runs from 31 Tests at 37.04 including 11 fifties and five hundreds. An elegant right-hand batsman, Rahul has been part of India's top-order in Tests, which comprises Murali Vijay and Shikhar Dhawan. Nevertheless, his struggles in England where he managed 299 in five Tests at 29.90 have put a question mark on his place in the side. But Bangar cautioned against ‘overthinking’.
“There are so many voices (telling you what to do) and then you start doubting your methods. He has been a very consistent player for us, right from 2014 till now. He has had very small patches wherein he has not got the runs for the team. So, it’s important for me, as a coach, to ensure that his mind doesn't get clouded. That can generally happen pretty soon at this level. To convince him that his methods have been great – maybe he could get away from his approach or batting plan a bit – and that there's not too much of a technical fault. We've been talking a lot about getting past those initial phases and expecting the ball to pitch in line with the stumps.”
Meanwhile, opener Prithvi Shaw continued his run glut, scoring a whirlwind 53-ball 70, studded with 11 boundaries and a six. Asked if the diminutive batsman has been asked to mellow his aggressive instincts, considering a high-profile tour to Australia isn't far off, Bangar said, “We encourage our batsmen to play in their individual styles because that builds up the character of the team. When you have someone who can score runs quickly at the top, it takes the pressure off the middle order. Also, it makes life difficult for the opposition since they can't attack in a set manner.”
With India finishing the second day's play on 4 for 308, trailing West Indies by just three runs, Bangar felt that the host was ‘well placed’. “The match was hanging in balance when we were four down for 162. But it's good to have two set batsmen in the middle. I think, they (Windies) bowled to a plan unlike in Rajkot. They set smart fields and didn't have men at catching positions even against spin. We were made to work harder for our runs. The bowlers waited for the batsmen to make mistakes while the batters waited for the loose balls; there were also fewer boundaries. We have a partnership going now, so from that perspective, it's a good position to be in.”
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