Indian batting coach Sanjay Bangar feels that the adjustment to individual batting technique along with focus and discipline have put the batsmen in good position and it can be a turning point in the series.
Cricket news: The changes have made India successful in the first innings of the third Test at Trent Bridge
India’s main failures in the previous two Tests was due to the fraught techniques, weak application, inappropriate shot selection and lack of partnerships.
Every batsmen except the skipper Virat Kohli suffered from these problems and hence India was forced to make some changes in the lineup which exacerbated the issue.
The England skipper Joe Root won the toss and asked the visitors to bat first in a slow and dry pitch. The openers Shikhar Dhawan and KL Rahul showed patience and composed a well 60-runs opening stand.
“The most important thing was the opening partnership was according to our expectation,” Bangar said. “In the previous two Tests we were losing two or three wickets inside the first 15 overs. Because of that the middle order was walking in early in difficult conditions. It was not just the start but also the way they were batting was good.”
Bangar said that the adjustments in the players’ techniques were very subtle and gave some examples such as Dhawan’s reduction in the bat speed, Rahul’s patience to wait for the ball to come and Rahane’s use of feet to play strokes confidently.
“The way Shikhar made the changes to his batting, the way he reduced his bat speed, the way he played the ball later, these adjustments he made in the last six or seven days, he should get credit. KL Rahul, too, was playing on the back foot, he was reacting after the ball’s movement. These changes the batsmen have made make me hopeful for the rest of the series. With five more innings left, if our batsmen can play in the same way, their performance graph will carry on to improve.”
Another difference was that the batsmen played more in front of the square both the front as well as the back foot.
In Edgbaston India have a total of 94 balls in front of square while in Lord’s the number significantly dropped to 68. But in Trent Bridge the number is already 80 in the first day.
Another change made by the batsmen were to commit to score more rather than the rut they found themselves in the last two Tests. Bangar said that the players knew about the fast outfield in Trent Bridge and made optimum use of it.
“We all realise that the outfield is very, very fast here in Nottingham. So you get value for your shots. Because the ball is swinging, the way it has been, you always have a lot of players in catching positions. It leaves big gaps in the field, so if you get bat on ball, time it well, there is always value for… I don’t think any side can control run rate here beyond a certain limit because value for shots, it is a fast outfield, anybody timing the ball will get value for shots.”
India’s first innings’ backbone was the gritty 159-run partnership for the fourth wicket between Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane.
Although both the batsmen missed out on their individual centuries, yet the positive aspect was Rahane’s return to form as this was his first half-century in 14 Test innings.
“His mindset was very clear,” Bangar said. “He was very positive, his feet were moving well. He was getting into good positions…at times there can be a lapse in concentration which can lead to losing your wicket, which had happened in the previous Test. But he seemed to be in good nick and he capitalised, put us in a good position and he would be hurting because a big score was on the cards.”