Adjustments to individual techniques coupled with the focus and discipline of the India batsmen were the key to them ending the first day in a good position, according to batting coach Sanjay Bangar, who believed it could be a turning point for the batting line-up
Fraught techniques, weak application, inappropriate shot selection and lack of partnerships were identified as reasons for the failure of all the India specialist batsmen, barring Virat Kohli, over the first two Tests. It meant the team think tank were forced to ring in changes, which further exacerbated the issue.
However, asked to bat by England captain Joe Root on a slow and dry pitch, India’s batsmen showed patience, composure and a renewed vigour and the first impact was the 60-run opening partnership between Shikhar Dhawan and KL Rahul.
“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.”
The adjustments were subtle and Bangar gave a few examples: Dhawan tinkered with his bat speed, Rahul waited for the ball to come, Ajinkya Rahane used his feet more 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.”
All India’s batsmen played shots more in front of square, both on the front and the back foot. At Edgbaston, the they played a total of 94 balls in front of square. At Lord’s that came down to 68. In this third Test, already that count stands at 80.
Anotther significant difference was the batsmen were committed to scoring unlike the rut they found themselves in the first two Tests. Bangar said the batting group was conscious of the fast outfield at Trent Bridge.
“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.”
The backbone of the India innings was the 159-run fourth-wicket partnership between Kohli and Rahane although both batsmen missed out on centuries. Nonetheless, the significant bit was Rahane finding form with 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.”