Sanjay Bangar’s excellent tenure of five years with the Indian team as its batting coach came to an end with the recent 2-0 Test series in the West Indies. He was offered an opportunity to reassert his position from a presentation but the Board picked former India opener Vikram Rathour. “I have no regrets because I gave my best and I wish Vikram the best too,” said Bangar, on his return from the West Indies.
Bangar joined the team in 2014 when Duncan Fletcher was the chief coach and served as the batting coach under both Anil Kumble and Ravi Shastri. “They were obviously different. Duncan had a different view relating to batting technique, Kumble was amazingly methodical and Ravi was good in developing mental toughness. I learnt so much from them,” Bangar told Sportstar .
India was No. 5 in Test rankings when he came in and Bangar leaves with the team slotted at No. 1. “We won 30 of 52 Tests and 82 off 122 ODIs. We were consistent (from 2014 to 2019) and beat all countries in their home conditions. I take immense pride in being part of this journey.”
During the phase starting from 2015, the Indian team introduced the five-bowler theory in Tests. “It was a bold call which paid. To go in with five bowlers was possible because the batsmen coped with the challenge of playing with that additional responsibility. It was a major shift in the way we played Test cricket. Six batsmen laid the foundation and our splendid attack worked wonderful victories,” Bangar added.
He cited the Adelaide Test of 2014. “We were set a target of 364 on the final day and Virat (Kohli) decided to go for the win. India was not playing for a draw and that was a big change of attitude. We lost the match but we had set a new trend of playing to win.”
Bangar, also, pointed out the Test against South Africa at Johannesburg in 2018 when India won by 63 runs. “We had prepared well for the brute of a pitch, the quickest and sharpest we had faced in years. Batsmen were getting hit regularly but they hung in bravely. The batsmen earned praise from Nasser Hussain who felt no one should ever doubt Indian batsmen’s ability to handle torrid pace.”
Among his responsibilities which he loved was preparing the batsmen for a match. “It was a job that I loved, creating the conditions they would likely encounter – seaming, spinning and bouncy. Some of the batsmen had their insecurities but I worked with them to enhance their mental composure and help them rid of distractions and uncertainties without once confusing them. They stayed close to their natural game. I would identify their template and not allow them to drift away from it.”
Looking back, Bangar, 46, noted, “I am happy to leave with a team that boasts of a strong middle order in Test matches. There is depth in batting now due to regular contributions from the wicket-keeper and the lower order. We need to strengthen our openers, especially in overseas conditions. There is little to worry on the bowling front. We have a rich collection there.”
On his reported tiff with National selector Devang Gandhi, he said, “It is fictitious. I had a cordial exchange with him three days after the selection process was over. It was related to my presentation. There was no heated argument.”