After India’s ouster from the 2019 Cricket World Cup, much of the blame was laid on the failure of the middle order in crucial junctures. This debate had been raging on for the past few years as India tried several batsmen in the no. 4 position. However, India’s worst fears came true as the Indian middle order failed to click in the semi-finals against New Zealand. Subsequently, Sanjay Bangar, who was with the team since 2014, was sacked and Vikram Rathour was brought in as the new batting coach.
The MSK Prasad-led selection committee announced India’s support staff after interviewing 88 candidates for various posts over four days and gave Rathour the nod. The 50-year-old from Punjab played for India in six Test matches and seven ODIs from 1996 to 1997. He was known to be a prolific first class batsmen and has coached the Punjab and Himachal Pradesh team in the Ranji Trophy while also being a selector of the Indian team from 2012 to 2016.
One of the main tasks for Rathour would be to solve the no. 4 conundrum. Team India have been looking for a no. 4 batsmen and have tried several batsmen in the position. However, Rathour has already identified some players who he would like to see perform in the crucial position.
‘It is one slot (we must look at). The middle-order in one-day is not doing well and we must, of course, sort it out. Shreyas Iyer has done well in the last couple of games and we also have Manish Pandey. These two guys have done very well in domestic cricket and with India A. These are the batters who are capable of doing the job and I have no doubt about it in my mind. It is a matter of getting it right at the top level. We need to back them and provide them with the right preparations so that they can be there for a longer time. They have enough talent in them to do well,’ Rathour said in an interview to bcci.tv.
Rathour also talked about another area of concern that India needs to sort out quickly and that is the opening partnerships in Tests. In the past year, Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Prithvi Shaw, Hanuma Vihari, Murali Vijay and Mayank Agarwal have been tried in the opening slot but they have failed to consistently get going. While Agarwal and Shaw have looked promising but they have also faced their fair share of troubles. Rathour now looks for the batsmen to stand up and perform consistently.
‘The other area of concern is the opening partnership in Tests. We have options and there is healthy competition. We need to find a way for them to be more consistent,’
Rathour was already a contender for the batting coach position but had some conflict of interest issue leading up to the interviews. Early this year, Rathour was due to join the India ‘A’ and U-19 coaching set-up with Rahul Dravid, but had to be withdrawn due to a conflict of interest issue over his brother-in-law, Ashish Kapoor, heading the junior selection committee.
First Published: Sep 06, 2019 13:41 IST