Only 11.5 overs were possible on the opening day of the first Test at the Eden Gardens due to rain but it was enough for high-flying Team India to get a reality check. Yet to lose a series under Virat Kohli’s captaincy, the hosts entered the game as firm favourites with many even believing that the ongoing series will prepare the team for the challenging tour of South Africa early next year.
However, it did not take long for Suranga Lakmal to exploit the overcast conditions and give India a glimpse of what they can face when they visit other countries next year as he made full use of the grass and bounce on the pitch to rock India’s formidable top-order. On the very first ball, he sent back KL Rahul before Shikhar Dhawan chopped one on his stumps. Kohli managed to hang around for 10 balls before Lakmal had him lbw for a duck, thus reducing the hosts to 17 for 3 before rain ended the day’s play.
But despite the top-order failing to fire, India batting coach Sanjay Bangar said the team-management is happy to play on the challenging wicket and said the team is up for the challenge.
“We are happy to play on wickets like this. A team doesn’t really want to play on easy conditions. We challenge ourselves and most players are open to such challenges. We want to continue improving as a team,” Bangar said.
“It was a similar wicket last year, after it was re-laid. We played the Test really well and applied ourselves. We are ready for the challenge,” he added.
Bangar further said the cloudy conditions only made batting tougher and rued that the rain interruption did not help them to consolidate their innings after the disastrous start. Moreover, with the visibility being low, both the teams had agreed to play under the floodlights.
“The conditions were pretty tough for batting and what didn’t really help us was we did not get an extended passage for play wherein you had 15-20 overs bowled at a batsman in a particular fashion. It didn’t allow our batsmen to get into a rhythm,” said Bangar. “It was similar to a day-night Test. It didn’t seem to be a day Test. At times under such circumstances, playing with a red ball becomes pretty tough. It’s more difficult to pick the red balls.”
The former India international went on to ooze confidence as he said the team has all its bases covered which will help the team to recover from the early setbacks.
“We have got all bases covered as the game goes into fourth and fifth day. There would be dents in the wicket because of the dampness. There will be variable bounce which may come into play. Both spinners are really vital to us. We have got swing and seam and the pace that is required,” he said.
Bangar also had a word of advise for the batsmen on how to play on the tough pitch where shot making is not easy. He also credited Lakmal for putting the balls in the right place which resulted in wickets.
“The amount of times you are going to get beaten plays on your mind. The best approach is to forget the previous ball and accept that you got beaten on a number of occasions. You may not really play elegantly but you will have to grind it out as those are equally important runs,” he said.
“You can’t really fault them for shot selections. All credit to Lakmal who put the ball in right place and let the wicket did the rest. He used the conditions that suited him,” he added.
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