Cricket

Last game was an aberration, have faith in middle-order, says Sanjay Bangar

Assistant coach Sanjay Bangar believes India’s batting collapse in the fourth ODI was an “aberration” and reposed faith on the middle-order.

Assistant coach Sanjay Bangar believes India’s batting collapse in the fourth ODI was an “aberration” and reposed faith on the middle-order.   | Photo Credit: Reuters

India’s batting came a cropper in the Hamilton game as they were dismissed for their seventh lowest total of 92.

Assistant coach Sanjay Bangar believes India’s batting collapse in the fourth ODI was an “aberration” and reposed faith on the middle-order, saying it has mostly delivered whenever put in a tough situation.

India’s batting came a cropper in the Hamilton game as they were dismissed for their seventh lowest total of 92.

However, Bangar said it was an one-odd failure.

“The middle order has rose to the occasion many times and delivered. Yes some situation has been trying but it is not that the middle order hasn’t performed,” Bangar told reporters ahead of the fifth ODI against New Zealand here Sunday.

“When required, more often than not whenever it has been put in a situation, it has delivered, may be the last game was an aberration,” he added.

Bangar explained his point by giving example of games — Cuttack (India vs England, Jan 2017), Indore (India vs SA, Oct 2015) and MCG final (India vs Australia, Jan 2019) — where the middle order contributed to win matches.

“...if they (top order batsmen) are batting well then the middle order doesn’t get the opportunity required to maintain the groove,” the former India allrounder said.

“It is also one of those series where our top order hasn’t got a hundred, so it has given a lot of time to the middle order to go out there and play situations ... and they have finished games when they have got an opportunity.”

India’s batting unit without skipper Virat Kohli and Mahendra Singh Dhoni didn’t have any answers to Trent Boult’s devastating spell but Bangar said such games actually help them reflect on what they can do better.

“It was an one-off game for us. We know we played well below our potential and our expected levels, the boys realise it and we just need to put that game behind and look to the next game,” he said.

“It gives us an opportunity to reflect in case if we miss out players due to fitness issues. World Cup will be a long tournament, there will be injuries and players are going to miss out and it gives us a reflection as to how players will cope up in their absence and we were found wanting in that situation in the last game.

“But they are quality players, even in the third game, Dinesh Karthik and Ambati Rayudu had stitched a partnership of 82 to finish the game, so we can’t really draw too many conclusion after one-odd failure.”

Bangar said the team management is trying to rotate the players to give everyone some game time.

“We are trying to balance out opportunities, trying to keep them hot and give them enough game time. This is a conscious effort specially in Australia and here where we have rotated our players,” he said.

“There are going to be time where a player doesn’t get 5-6 games on a row, so we are trying to make that balance. In the number of games that we had we have made sure that everybody is getting some sort of hit by rotating the players around.”

Talking about the World Cup squad, Bangar said: “Probably the selectors have got that list down to 20, most of them are going to be part of the world cup squad and we have assessed potential of lot of players ... selectors are also watching intently and going forward we will settle into a nice team which covers all bases.”

India will take on New Zealand in a three-game T20I series, beginning Wednesday.

Neesham heaps praise on Dhoni

New Zealand all-rounder Jimmy Neesham heaped praise on Mahendra Singh Dhoni, saying that “you don’t have the game won until you have him out.” Before the ODI series in Australia, questions were raised over Dhoni’s waning abilities with the bat but he silenced his critics with three back-to-back half-centuries.

Before missing out on the third and fourth ODI against New Zealand due to hamstring injury, the 37-year-old scored an unbeaten 48 and behind the stumps, he remains as sharp as ever.

“His record speaks for itself. He is a fantastic player. I know there were some noises in the Indian media if he should be in the World Cup squad or not. He has got that calm demeanour in the middle-order. When you are bowling to him, you know you have not got the game won until you get him out,” said Neesham ahead of the fifth ODI.

Talking about the final game of the ODI series, the New Zealand all-rounder, who is back after recovering from a hamstring injury, said he expects the ball to do a bit at the Westpac Stadium, like it did in Hamilton where India were bowled out for 92 before suffering an eight-wicket loss.

“We sort of got conditions (at Hamilton) which suit us a little bit more, there was more swing in the air for Boulty (Trent Boult). Anytime, if you can knock over a team like India for 90 odd, you will be happy.

“But you never know what you are going to get here as pitch conditions go but look, we know the conditions are going to vary in different parts of the country and the world. We want to be a team which can perform in all conditions.”

The 28-year-old, who plays domestic cricket for Wellington now having moved from Otago, expects the Westpac pitch to help the pacers.

“I certainly prefer playing at Westpac because at the Basin Reserve (other venue in Wellington) you are just bowling into the wind everyday. At Westpac, it swings a little bit more. It is a pretty fair surface. I haven’t seen the wicket but I am sure it will be full of runs,” said Neesham.

New Zealand have an average total of 207 at this venue over the last three years, indicating that batting is not easy on the surface.

On the personal front, Neesham has been in good touch and was amongst the runs and wickets in the home series against Sri Lanka before injury ruled him out of the first three games against India.

“Sri Lanka obviously was a lesser challenge than India who are one of the best teams in the world, it poses questions in different ways. But any time you are scoring runs, you take that confidence into the next series no matter who it is against. Hopefully, I will get a chance to contribute.”

India skipper Virat Kohli has been rested from the final two ODIs and the subsequent T20 series but Neesham feels the visitors remains a formidable force.

“Their top three average 20 runs more than any other pair. They have a lot of quality at the top despite Virat being rested. For us, it (Kohli’ absence) is certainly not a case of being complacent. We have to bowl in the right areas like Boulty did the other day,” he said referring to Boult’s five-wicket haul.

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Printable version | May 28, 2020 7:46:25 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/cricket/india-tour-of-new-zealand-new-zealand-vs-india-fifth-odi-in-wellington/article26161626.ece

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