World Cup 2019: Bangar backs Rahul to excel as an opener

Indian team's batting coach Sanjay Bangar, who excelled in the role of a makeshift opener in England during his playing days, expects K.L. Rahul to make a strong case for himself opening the innings at the World Cup 2019.

Soft-spoken Sanjay Bangar’s biggest cricketing moment occurred under the English skies. During the 2002 series and in the third Test at Leeds (Headingley), Bangar excelled as a make-shift opener. He scored a 68 and more importantly, shared a 170-run second-wicket partnership with centurion Rahul Dravid. It validated Sourav Ganguly’s brave decision to bat on winning the toss and equally, the base was set for a fine triumph.

Back to the United Kingdom but albeit in a new role as India’s batting coach, it is now Bangar’s turn to bolster the confidence of another player, who too has been pitch-forked into the opener’s role. With Shikhar Dhawan ruled out with an injured left-thumb, it is but inevitable that K.L. Rahul will get a shot at the top of the order when India takes on New Zealand in a World Cup game here at Trent Bridge on Thursday.

Speaking to the media on Wednesday, Bangar backed Rahul to perform well and said that having the ability to play across the line-up, augurs well for the Karnataka batsman.

“The advantage of playing in various situations is that you understand the game a lot better. If you look at the history of the game some players have been very versatile. Here you can take his namesake Rahul Dravid, who batted at various positions, and it actually helped the team big time. It’s a mental adjustment and any player, who is able to do that requires a lot of skill but ultimately it will enhance the position that he will bat in, and it will also help the team's cause,” Bangar said.

The former Railways cricketer also emphasised that despite the spectre of rain and disrupted practice schedules, India is in good rhythm: “When you come to England, you expect these things. So far, we have been lucky that we haven't had a game affected by the weather. So let's keep our fingers crossed. We have had a fair time to prepare ourselves because we spent a lot of time before our first match, and that was an advantage. What's fortunate is that, everybody got to bat and bowl. And it isn't necessary that you come to the nets every day. The bowlers are in good rhythm and you don't really want to risk bowlers (at practice) in conditions where it's not really firm.