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'With long season ahead, Gambhir becomes important at top of the order'

Last updated on: October 06, 2016 17:40 IST

Virat Kohli and Gautam Gambhir during a training session at Eden Gardens

IMAGE: Gautam Gambhir (left) and Virat Kohli at a training session. Photograph: PTI

Injuries to KL Rahul and Shikhar Dhawan have brought Gautam Gambhir back into the picture, and batting coach Sanjay Bangar says the Delhi batsman will be a vital cog in the Indian Test team in the long home season.

Gambhir returned to the Indian Test squad after more than two years in the wilderness 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 veteran opener in the third Test, starting Friday.

"Gautam Gambhir is a quality player. What he has done really well for the time he was out of the team was that he kept on performing for his (Indian Premier League) 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 injury 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," said Bangar.

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."

"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.

Sanjay Bangar speaks at a press conference in Indore on Thursday

IMAGE: Sanjay Bangar speaks at a press conference in Indore on Thursday. Photograph: BCCI/Twitter

The batting coach also emphasised on self-confidence that the team possesses.

"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 of 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 score-line, our intent will remain the same."

Indore has been experiencing inclement weather with rain falling last night but Bangar feels it 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.

Bangar also said that untimely injury to Bhuvneshwar Kumar rest has given the lean pacman rest and opened the door for Shardul Thakur, who toured the West Indies without playing a single game.

While conceding that a lot 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." 

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