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How Nair converted 30 into 300

Karnataka batsman rates his Ranji final triple ton his best ever

Karun Nair batted Tamil Nadu out of the Ranji Trophy final at the Wankhede Stadium with a patiently compiled unbeaten triple-century. The 23-year old batsman had not been amongst runs in the lead-up to the grand finale after scoring prolifically in the previous season.

However, with his team reeling on 16 for 3 and KL Rahul retiring hurt, Nair watchfully built the innings. He not only salvaged it but set Karnataka well on course to retain the coveted trophy.

While speaking to the media after second day’s play, Nair had said, “I was getting a lot of 30s and I was getting out off one wrong ball.” Determined to change that, Nair decided to bide his time and deliver a big score when his team needed it the most.

So what had helped the middle-order batsman convert a 30 into a 300 this time? “I just concentrated and tried to make sure that I reach fifty first and then take it from there,” Nair told BCCI.TV after returning at stumps on Day-three with an unbeaten 301. “That’s the way it goes. Once you get the 100 and the field spreads out, you keep getting runs afterwards. So I just tried to make it as big as possible and not let go. And if you are not getting runs, you value every run even more.”

Patience characterised the young batsman’s stay in the middle and he was ably supported by KL Rahul who made 188. Speaking about the partnership, Nair said, “I know Rahul since I started playing cricket. we started together at same age group. It helps that we know each other so well. We just kept batting and talking to each other.”

So was there nervousness as they inched towards their respective double centuries? No, was the reply.“I don’t think we had any nervousness as such. We just had to spend time at the wicket and runs would come automatically because both of us are stroke makers. So, we just wanted to spend time at the wicket.”

Unsurprisingly, Nair rated this knock as the best he has ever played. “It means a lot to me,” he said. “We always plan like this. After yesterday we had planned that we have to bat the whole day today to bat them out of the match. I feel really happy that I have been able to achieve that.”

Batting for over two days, Nair has broken records and is on the brink of making some of his own. Asked if he was aware of them, he said, “At one point the team management kept telling that this is what is coming up but I wasn’t looking at that,” he said.

This is the longest that he has ever batted and the effort was evident. What is even more pleasing is that it has borne rich dividends. “The atmosphere in the dressing room is fantastic,” Nair said. “We just wanted to seal the title off by batting today and we will bat as long as possible tomorrow also,” he signed off.

Prajakta Pawar

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Technique talk with Sanjay Bangar

India’s assistant coach reveals the technical work that’s gone into the growth of Indian batsmen

“It has been a growing and enjoyable journey so far,” exclaims Sanjay Bangar, describing his stint with the Indian team as the assistant coach as we sit down to chat about batting techniques on a chilly Hamilton afternoon.

Over the next half an hour, Bangar would talk about his time with the Indian team, the challenges that came along with it and would stress over the team’s endeavour to become world beaters. It is with utmost interest and precision that Bangar reflects on minute details that go into the betterment of batsmen and the amount of work that happens backstage is indeed noteworthy.

In this exclusive chat with bcci.tv, he delves into details of how the team management works on helping players to get better in their own craft.

Excerpts

When you took over as assistant coach after the England Test series, what were the kind of challenges that were presented to you?

When we started during the England tour, the confidence of the batsmen was a bit low. There was a bit of self doubt that had crept in. It was very important to get the mindset right and bring a bit of positivity going in their mind. It was all about inculcating or reinforcing the confidence that had taken a bit of a beating at that time. That was the first and primary step.

It was also very important to find the trust factor in the players. Coaching doesn’t really happen at one go. First you need to know the player, understand his game and then bring in the acceptability factor in him. Batting is such that it can get quite technical and for that it was important to earn that trust of the player and then try and bring about the changes that you probably would want to make technically.

Was it tough to create that comfortable player-coach rapport?

The player will trust you when you show that you are willing to work as hard for the player with his best interest at heart which I have tried to do. Also it was important to spend a lot of time away from the field with them and not talk solely about cricket. You had to know them on a personal level and for that there was no other substitute other than spending time.

Once you got that understanding going, how did you bring about technical changes in their batting?

I believe in observing a lot and being patient and once you are convinced that there are certain changes that are required, you let the player know about it. Once the player is convinced and comfortable working on those changes, you spend hours throwing the same particular delivery which the batsman was finding difficult to encounter. I, along with Raghavindraa DVGI (a regular at practice drills) put in hours of throw downs at every practice session . Our fielding coach Sridhar also chips in when he is free from his fielding drills.

For example, Virat Kohli had an alignment issue with deliveries that were leaving him from the middle and outside off-stump. We discussed the issue and worked at it tirelessly throwing the same ball at him over and over again. Ravi Shastri also advised him to stand outside the crease, which he did fearlessly against the quickest of bowlers. It was with sheer drive of Virat that he overcame the weakness.

Take for instance Murali Vijay, who was among the most prolific run-scorers for us in the Australia Test series. He would fend deliveries outside the off-stump and play the second line. We wanted him to play the original line that he had perceived when the ball left the bowler's hand, and not the second line, if he erred in his judgement. He showed tremendous patience and improved his judgement of playing around the off-stump. He left a lot of good deliveries, something that we worked on in our practice drills.

We keep a tab on stability, balance and mobility aspects of all our batsman and plant a seed in their mind by offering a change and then monitor it .

If you look back, how would you rate the batting performance of the batsmen in the Australia Test series?

We, as a management are proud of the way the boys have played in the Test series. If you look at the Tests, there were many firsts. There were occasions when we created opportunities to chase a 300-plus target, scored in excess of 300 on the first day of the Brisbane Test match, which no visiting team has done in Australia and have earned two hard fought draws at Melbourne and Sydney. The score-line doesn’t do justice to the way we played. We played some hard cricket and the team has only gotten better. The mindsets and the confidence factor have become better. The players understand their roles well in the team now.

Does it become difficult to incorporate those technical facets from Tests into the ODI format?

We tend to get away from the technicalities in ODI cricket. Crease management in ODIs becomes very crucial. At this level, bowlers keep hitting those areas consistently and as a batsman you need to do something different to create scoring opportunities. You need to walk down the wicket, stand at the off-stump and look to work a few deliveries on the leg-side, etc. There will be some swing bowlers who are bowling at you at one particular length. It is at that time that you need to work on playing with the bowler’s mind to disturb his rhythm. These are certain things that we discuss with the batsmen and try to monitor how they react to it. We also think of a few other things that might creep in over a period of time and work on them accordingly.

After a below par tri-series, how did the team get back the energy levels required for the World Cup?

The confidence never mattered because we knew no matter what the outside world viewed, the mindset, the confidence and the intensity into the build-up to the World Cup was always the same. We always believed in ourselves, that we are as good as any other team. We knew that if we tried and looked inwards and matched our own expectations we would be in a good position for the World Cup. There was a blip in the tri-series after a month of Test cricket that took a toll mentally rather than physically. The break did a world of good to the team and when we assembled back we always had that belief and confidence to do well in the World Cup. Our preparations were very good. Right from the Sri Lanka ODI series, the process has always been of approaching every game as a knock-out game. This approach will come in handy in the knock-out stages of the World Cup.

What kind of preparations are you talking about?

From a batting perspective you try and analyse what the opposition bowlers are going to offer you. One needs to foresee and visualize the type of challenges that the batsmen are about to encounter and try to prepare them for those. We work on various angles. For instance, if we have a left-arm fast bowler bowling over the wicket, we tend to replicate that in our practice drills. We create match scenarios so that the batsmen are ready when they actually encounter that on a match day. Preparation is the toughest part for the player and the confidence stems from countering match situations.

Bowlers use so many different variations these days that you need to find ways to counter them. You have to deal with slower bouncers and beat the longer boundaries. It is also about hitting the gaps and wanting to run a lot of ones and twos. We hit the balls into the ground for slow bouncers, work out angles for bowlers who bowl close to the wicket or from wide of the crease. It is about finding the best possible ways to maximize run scoring. This is something that we try and replicate during our throw-downs.

We talk about batting and bowling partnerships, how important is it for the support staff to be in sync as well?

It is of immense importance and we discuss and debate certain issues collectively. Eventually the direction of the team management is important. Ravi Shastri has a tremendous positive influence on the team and the fighting abilities of this team are a reflection of him. Duncan has technical acumen which has helped the players in their game. We work as a unit to recognize the area of concerns for various players and rectify them.

What are the visible improvements in certain batsmen that you have noticed so far?

Shikhar Dhawan comes to mind. The opening up of his front shoulder while batting has worked for him. Earlier he used to hit a lot of runs in the covers and cover point region but now he is playing much straighter. Even in the Test series it was not a case of him not batting well, he was getting to well made 30s and getting out. Then came a turnaround when he scored 38 at Perth. He was standing more upright which was helping him to counter the extra bounce on that wicket. For any player, once you go through a dry run, the confidence does get low, but it was all about keeping the players' confidence high and refraining from pressing the panic button.

Also there have been good performances from Rohit and Raina and its only a matter of time before their performances will be noticed .
Is Ravindra Jadeja’s lack of form with the bat worrisome?


Batting lower down the order is not easy in ODIs, either you are playing the role of the accelerator or there is a rebuilding phase. During the rebuilding phase you have to curb your attacking instincts because most of the times you are practicing attacking shots when you bat no 7.

When you have a situation where you need to bat close to 20 overs, you need to modify your game. Jadeja has the ability and lets not forget that he has 3 triple hundreds in First-class cricket. What we are trying to inculcate in him is to minimize playing dot balls, hit the gaps, hit the ball along the ground. He is a brilliant runner between the wickets and probably one of the most athletic players in our team. With time I am sure he will do well.

What are your views of Ajinkya Rahane? How have you seen him progress over the last few tours?

Rahane is a very versatile player in this Indian batting line-up. He has a strong technique that can adapt to different conditions and has a great temperament to go with it. He is a very flexible player and we have seen how he has batted at various numbers in Tests and ODIs as per the demands of the team. It is a quiet compliment for a player when the team management thinks that you are good enough for different positions and roles. It is a massive compliment for Rahane and he has taken it in the right stride. The big advantage with him is that he is willing to take it as a challenge. If you are willing, your game progresses and flowers. That’s what is happening with Rahane. We have worked a lot on his mobility to get in good positions.

Do you think the current batsmen are the next big faces of Indian batting?

This batting unit has got a great head start. Look at their batting performances over the last few tours, it has been outstanding. We have been close to overseas Test victories. We won a Test in England and before that drew the Test series in South Africa and came close to winning a few Tests in Australia. 18 months down the line if we have this chat again, I am sure we would be in a far better position than where we stand now in the ICC Test rankings. There is a lot of willingness and desire in this group to perform and become world beaters.

Anand Subramaniam

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