‘Not obsessed with the number of boundaries we hit’ – Sanjay Bangar

India

India’s assistant coach Sanjay Bangar believes that for batsmen to transition successfully from the IPL to the World Cup, they will need to guard against premeditating shots. Bangar also said India’s ODI team was not “obsessed” with the number of boundaries they were hitting in an innings, and focussed instead on a risk-free cricket.

“In T20, you’re all the time expecting what the bowler will bowl,” Bangar told Bangalore Mirror. “You end up planning beforehand looking at field placements… The go-to balls for most bowlers are analysed in detail. Batsmen start expecting such deliveries. In 50 overs where you have more time and are getting 300 deliveries instead of 120, you need to be mindful of not premeditating shots for the major part of the innings.”

Bangar said that “batting rhythm, fitness and match temperament” were key ingredients the Indian team would take forward from the IPL into the World Cup, and elaborated on the batting approach the team has used in ODIs.

“We’ve our own internal parameters as to how to approach ODIs. If we come close to those parameters, we should be fine,” Bangar said. “What makes the Indian team unique is that it’s consistently playing risk-free cricket. And that’s because we emphasise on the ones and the twos. As a batting group, we are not obsessed over the number of boundaries we’ve hit. But we discuss strike-rotation a great deal. Which is why we’re able to eschew risks.”

Bangar has been with the Indian team as batting coach since 2014, when he was brought in alongside Ravi Shastri, B Arun and R Sridhar for the limited-overs leg of the England tour after the Test series had ended in a 3-1 defeat. He even had a brief spell as the head coach, on a tour to Zimbabwe in mid-2016 before Anil Kumble took over from Shastri as the full-time head coach, reverting to his batting/assistant coach role thereafter. During the last five years, he has been the only constant among the coaching staff.

Elaborating on his role, Bangar said that earning the players’ trust and understanding them well were the keys to a successful stint. He also went into the details of how Virat Kohli turned around a horror Test tour of England in 2014 to a blockbuster one in 2018.

“What worked for Virat was he played close to the body. He showed great discipline outside off stump in tough English conditions,” Bangar said. “He was playing close to his front pad and very late. That required individual discipline. The thing Virat did differently was he stood outside the crease to reduce the extent of swing. Some of our batsmen tried to use his gameplan but erred in reaching out towards the ball.

“Whether you stand outside the crease or inside, the key to batting is playing the ball late and close to the body. It could also have been a fallout of going to Test matches straight from T20Is where you’re always expected to get bat on ball. In the longer format, with challenging conditions and a slip cordon around, batsmen have to react to the ball instead of pre-determining their shots.”

Bangar spoke about helping rebuild KL Rahul‘s confidence after a disappointing Test series in Australia in 2018-19.

“After his debut, he scored prolifically in each part of the world before the drought of runs hit him,” Bangar said. “We had to assess whether anything in his game had changed drastically. And if anything had indeed changed, the key was to get the player back to the methods he’d been following when he was successful. So we showed KL a lot of videos of the times he had been batting beautifully. He was getting across in his initial movement, which had to be changed a bit. Also, when a player goes through a bad patch, self-doubts tend to creep in. Advice comes in from all quarters. For KL, the challenge was to remain confident of his own methods.”

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