Rahul Finding New Ways to Get Himself Out: Sanjay Bangar
KL Rahul remains a strong contender to open the batting for India in next week’s first Test against Australia despite “finding new ways to get himself out”, in the words of Indian assistant coach Sanjay Bangar.
Rahul was the only prominent batsman to fail in India’s first longer-format outing with the bat on Day 2 of their tour game against Cricket Australia XI at Sydney. The opening batsmen fell to a rash shot for just three runs, on a day where five batsmen made half-centuries as India finished with 358.
Bangar was largely satisfied by India’s batting display on Thursday, 29 November, but demanded greater responsibility from the team’s most ‘established’ opener.
“He (Rahul) has been looking in good shape, including today. It is just that he is finding new ways to get out,” said Bangar.
We know his ability and if he converts that to performances then it is important for the team. He is not a young player any more and he is on his second tour here. He has played 30 Tests and he has a responsibility. We expect him to play with that responsibility and play his role for the teamSanjay Bangar
26-year-old Rahul scored his maiden hundred in the last Test India played on Australian soil – a 110 at Sydney, on his first appearance as an opener in what was only his second Test. But Bangar made it clear that the opening combinations as well as the number six slot remain up for grabs for the first Test at Adelaide from 6 December.
“I would say there are still some spots to be taken. We will keep a close eye on how the second innings goes and it gives some other batsmen a hit especially Murali Vijay and middle order batsmen, and see how they go,” he said.
India have three options at the top of the order in Rahul, Prithvi Shaw and Murali Vijay, while Rohit Sharma and Hanuma Vihari are expected to contest for the number six spot.
After a washout on the opening day due to torrential showers in Sydney, the second day’s performance was deemed satisfactory by the assistant coach.
“It was a pretty useful time in the middle. It was important that we switch to this format of the game because some of the guys are coming from T20s. Some Test guys, except for Cheteshwar Pujara, had a first-class game in New Zealand as well. All of them got to spend some time in the middle and get some runs,” Bangar said.
The Indian batsmen faced up to a largely inexperienced set of bowlers in the CA XI, but Bangar had no complaints about the quality of the opposition pacers. “We understand that there are Shield games going on. We are pretty happy with what they put up against us. They put in a lot of effort right throughout the day and that's what we are looking at,” he said.
19-year-old Shaw, who set the tone for the Indian innings with a stroke-filled 66 off 69 balls. The teenager’s fearlessness makes him a favourite for one of the two opening slots, and Bangar was full of praise for his sprightly start to the big leagues.
He has made a mark straightaway in whichever format he has played limited overs or first-class cricket, Irani Trophy, Ranji Trophy, Duleep Trophy or India A. He has shown he can adapt to the conditions and to the stage as well. He plays with a lot of clarity and the impressive thing about him is that he gets into good positions with clarity of mind and fearlessness of youth that helps him quite a bit.Sanjay Bangar on Prithvi Shaw
The four-match Border-Gavaskar Trophy kicks off with the opening Test at Adelaide starting on 6 December, and with the four-dayer against CA XI being the only chance at adjusting to the conditions, Bangar was happy with the bulk of India’s batsmen getting time out in the middle.
“Some went to New Zealand (as part of India A) with intention of getting accustomed to the bounce in their first game in Australia. It is different conditions in Adelaide because this is not a fast paced pitch as you would expect there (New Zealand) or in Perth. But we are out here to make most of whatever we get,” Bangar added.
“From that perspective, Virat switching formats from T20 to four-day game, Pujara coming straight back in the groove, Ajinkya spending a lot of time. Hanuma Vihari played with a lot of confidence and clarity. Rohit came back and got a knock, spending some time in the middle. All in all pretty satisfying effort from our side,” he concluded.