Achieving No. 1 ranking the proudest moment of my tenure: Sanjay Bangar
Sanjay Bangar serves as India's batting coach for more than five years. (AFP Image)

Having spent five years as India‘s batting coach, Sanjay Bangar parts ways with the coaching staff after the selectors picked Vikram Rathour as his replacement and looking back at his stint, nothing gives the former India allrounder more happiness than India reaching the pinnacle of Test rankings during his tenure.

ALSO READ: Vikram Rathour to be India’s new batting coach

In January 2016, India claimed the top spot in the ICC Test rankings for the first time since 2011 and the outgoing Bangar, in an interview with ESPNcricinfo, termed it the highest point of his coaching career and explained how India have been a force in all three formats of the game.

ALSO READ: ‘Reflect, refresh and reinvent’ – Sanjay Bangar looks ahead to the future

“It has been a memorable journey [India going] from No. 7 in the world to No. 1 in Test cricket,” Bangar said. “The team won 30 out of 52 Test matches played, including 13 overseas Test victories. In ODI cricket, the team won in all overseas countries convincingly. Overall, the team won 82 out of 122 matches. So it gives me immense pride that I was part of this phase of Indian cricket, for which I am grateful to the BCCI and to all the head coaches I worked with – Duncan [Fletcher], Ravi [Shastri] and Anil [Kumble] – for giving me an opportunity to serve the Indian cricket team for five consecutive years.”

With Bangar as batting coach, India toured England and Australia twice, in 2014 and 2018, and although both are extremely tough conditions to win a series in, it was the tour of South Africa in early 2018 which Bangar acknowledged as his toughest challenge. India lost the three-Test series 1-2 on the back of some poor batting in Cape Town and Centurion before bouncing back in Johannesburg to win the final Test and subsequently go to dominate South Africa 5-1 in ODIs and 2-1 in T20Is.

“I believe that South African conditions are the most challenging in the international circuit, especially Cape Town and Johannesburg,” Bangar revealed. “We faced those conditions on our tour of 2018, and we also had very little time to adjust there – precisely six days before the first Test started. Those Test matches were the toughest one could encounter. The team is very proud of one of the most courageous displays by our batting group in Johannesburg in a memorable victory. And then to go on and dominate the ODI series and win it 5-1 was equally praiseworthy.”

Looking back at the tours of England and Australia in 2014, Bangar praised the top order but reckoned one thing in particular hurt India in particular was lack of runs from the lower order, an area which their opponents bossed. But the emergence of Wriddhiman Saha, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and R Ashwin, coupled with their handy contributions with the bat, seems to be solving the issue gradually.

“Our batting in Australia, in 2014-15 and 2018-19 was outstanding, amongst the best ever by a visiting side. The top-order batting in particular was very good across all tours,” he said.

“In overseas conditions, perhaps we lacked runs lower down the order. We have allrounders in the spin department, which helps in India, but in overseas conditions, we didn’t have as many fast-bowling allrounders. Our top and middle order out-batted the opposition, but the lower order did better for the opposition.

“The team management was able to achieve a mindset shift of playing outside their [players’] comfort zones by often batting first, irrespective of the conditions. I am very happy with the results achieved not only by the top order but also by Wriddhiman Saha, Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin and Bhuvneshwar Kumar in the lower order. Credit to the work the players put in and their drive to achieve excellence.”