India’s batting coach Sanjay Bangar has been one of the biggest reasons behind Team India’s success over the past few years. His efforts along with the work done by coaches like Anil Kumble and Ravi Shastri, has put Indian cricket on a path of creating a lasting legacy.
However, Team India has embarked on one of its toughest tours in South Africa, a country they are yet to win a Test series against. The Hindu got a chance to chat with Bangar and here are excerpts from the interview.
Talking about working on players’ mindset when he first started working with the team, Bangar recalled, “Our first aim, when we began in August 2014, was to restore the belief of the players in their ability and have a very relaxed, friendly atmosphere in the dressing room, and then work towards building a strong bond between us (support staff) and the players.”
He credited Ravi Shastri for the shift in the way Indian Team now thinks, “It began under Ravi’s [Shastri] leadership. His influence on the batsmen’s mindsets has been very good. He has taken the fear of failure out of everybody. Players are willing to take risks, to come out of their comfort zone. Players are also taking responsibility, which is a great thing for a team which wants to leave a legacy behind.”
Talking about the criticism about Indian team’s success rate overseas, Bangar said, “In world cricket, most teams’ home records are better than their overseas records. The following Indian cricket has is enormous and so are the expectations. Every follower has an opinion. Our job is to respect those opinions and work towards achieving our own and the fans’ expectations. Till we won the 1983 World Cup, we did not have [many] major overseas successes. The occasional successes were remembered far more than the failures. But from 2001, the win percentage overseas has improved. This team has clearly raised the benchmark, and it is natural for people to have high expectations.”
Sanjay Bangar also explained the toughest part of his job, “Dealing with individual cases is the toughest part of coaching. At the end of the day, they are popular achievers, but also individuals and have to be dealt with separately. You have to have a clear understanding of the game to have that bond with the individual. You have to consider how their personal lives are, what stage of the careers they are at, and what their state of mind is to get them to the ideal performance state.”
Talking about the technique of different Indian batsmen, Bangar explained, “Our greatest strength is that we have not over-dissected the art of batting. Some players have open stances and some hold their bats high, but our coaching is done in a very traditional way; we have not complicated batting right from the academy stage. Every player has his own inherent strength. Our job is to build on that strength. “
He continued, “Ajinkya Rahane and M. Vijay are in the classical mould. [Cheteshwar] Pujara likes to score square of the wicket. Virat likes to upset the bowlers’ plans. K.L. Rahul and Shikhar Dhawan have a huge range of both vertical and horizontal bat shots, and then you have Rohit Sharma who, in my opinion, is the best equipped Indian batsman to score runs against the short ball and has the ability to pace his innings.”
Talking about the South Africa tour and the next 12 months of overseas tours, Bangar said, “We are going with a quiet confidence, knowing fully well that we have all the bases covered. We are on the verge of creating something very special over the next 12 months or so. All the hard work of the last three years is ready to fructify. The next 12 months could potentially be the era of modern Indian cricket because of our capability to adapt to situations and conditions. We will have good time to prepare. The indications are good.”