Kanpur: India batting coach Vikram Rathour said on Sunday that giving a lot of batting time to the tailenders in practice sessions has paid off for the team. He added that giving batting practice to the tailenders is an intended strategy that has been there for the past couple of years.

In India’s second innings on day four of the ongoing first Test at the Green Park Stadium, where they were reeling at 51/5, it took contributions from Shreyas Iyer, Ravichandran Ashwin, Wriddhiman Saha, and Axar Patel to lift the total to 234/7. Iyer, during his knock of 65, shared a partnership of 52 runs with Ashwin for the sixth wicket before raising 64 runs in association with Saha for the seventh wicket. After his departure, Saha had an unconquered association of 67 runs with Axar Patel before the declaration came.

“I think that has been a deliberate effort from our side. We have been trying to give them a lot much more batting whenever we are having the nets. That is what we have been doing for the past couple of years now. We have been giving a lot of batting to all tail-end batters. That strategy has been paying off. They are working hard, giving their best, and understanding the role of how important the contribution from tail comes because we have been on the suffering side mostly. In the past, the other teams have done well against us in that part. After picking four to five wickets, the other teams have managed to put a total. It’s good to see that we are managing to do that against others and doing it repeatedly,” said Rathour in the virtual press conference after Day Four.

Rathour believed that Iyer, who became the first Indian batter to get a century in the first innings (105) and then follow it up with a half-century in second on Test debut, looked in better touch during his important knock of 65. “It was extremely important. Of course, it is always very exciting when a debutant batsman comes in and scores a hundred. That is something very, very special. I thought he looked even better in the second innings. So, all the credit to him. It’s always extremely exciting as a coach and as a member of support staff to see someone walking into the team and doing well for themselves.”

Rathour was in praise of a gritty Saha scoring an unbeaten 61, especially after he didn’t keep wickets on day three due to neck stiffness. “He had a really, really stiff neck. So, he was definitely struggling. But knowing Saha, who is an ideal team man, we knew if we need him, he will be going to do whatever is required to be there and do the tough thing for the team, which he did today. I think he played an extremely important knock at the stage the team was in at that point. That is what all of us expect from Wriddhi. He has always been that kind of a person who you can count on and today, he showed why we have that kind of belief in him.”

“As far Wriddhi is concerned, unfortunately for him, you have an extremely special player in Rishabh Pant, who is the number one keeper of the team and has done extremely well for us in the past few years. That’s what all Wriddhi has at the ‘oment. He’s there whenever we need him when Pant is not available. He showed that again with the kind of knock he played today, showing how important and good he still is,” concluded the 52-year-old.