Indore: Injuries to KL Rahul and Shikhar Dhawan have brought Gautam Gambhir back into the picture, and batting coach Sanjay Bangar says he will be a vital cog in the Indian Test team over a long home season.
Gambhir returned to the Indian Test squad after more than two years, after Rahul suffered a hamstring injury. He did not
play in the Kolkata Test but Dhawan sustained a finger injury in that game and now the team has little choice but to field the Delhi batsman in the third Test, starting on Saturday.
"Gautam Gambhir is a quality player. The time he was out of the team, he kept performing for his (IPL) franchise and the state side. And when he got his opportunity in the Duleep Trophy, he was among the top run scorers and that too against the pink ball, which certain batsmen found difficult to pick. He has ticked all the boxes," said Bangar.
"I think the untimely injuries to KL Rahul and Shikhar Dhawan makes it sure there is a place for him. He has a proven record against spin bowling. And the number of Test matches we are going to play in India, he becomes a very important player at the top of the order," the coach said.
India play against England, Bangladesh (one-off game) and Australia after the ongoing three-match Test series against New Zealand.
Bangar also brushed aside the perceived lack of big runs from captain Virat Kohli in the two games against the Kiwis so far. "He had a tremendous tour of the West Indies where he hit a double hundred. Even in Jamaica, he was batting well and the Trinidad game was rained off. If you look at it, his innings (of 45) at Kolkata was match defining. India were tottering at 45 for 4 (in the second innings) when he and Rohit (Sharma) got together and stitched a brilliant rearguard partnership," Bangar said.
"Obviously, at times, the volume of runs don't come, but even smaller contributions can help. That's been something he has been doing. I am pretty sure he will also be eager to convert those into bigger ones. He has been making substantial contributions," Bangar said.
The coach also emphasised on self-confidence with which the team face the difficult situations. "The current group which has been playing Test series together over the last 12-15 months have a great belief in their abilities. We never think losing from any situation. That’s something which has transformed into on field performances."
Bangar said although the team has wrapped up the series, it was not going to drop intensity in the last match. "Whatever be the scoreline, our intent will remain the same."
Indore has been experiencing inclement weather, but Bangar feels the rain is unlikely to help the seam bowlers. "Since this game is to be played in the first week of October and winter is yet to set in, there won't be much assistance here for the seamers as far as movement is concerned. That’s my assessment," he said.
He also said that the untimely injury to Bhuvneshwar Kumar rest has given the lean paceman rest and opened the door for Shardul Thakur, who toured the West Indies without playing a single game.
While conceding that many of the Indian batsmen were not converting half-centuries into centuries, Bangar said the more important aspect is that the team's interest was always kept on top more than personal landmarks. "A lot of our batsmen get out after making 60, 70, 80. Every batsman thinks he has to cross the (century) landmark, but more important is that they keep the team's interest in mind, more than personal landmarks," he said.