Coach slams pitch but says batsmen let India down

ST JOHN’S, Antigua,  CMC – India’s batting coach Sanjay Bangar has criticised the pitch at the Vivian Richards Cricket Stadium but says there was no excuse for his side failing to overhaul the modest 189 set by West Indies in Sunday’s fourth One-Day International here.

What appeared to be an easy run chase for the Asian powerhouses turned into a quagmire as they were bowled out for 178, to lose by 11 runs as West Indies kept the series alive ahead of Thursday’s final ODI in Jamaica.

“It (the pitch) kept getting slower and shot-making wasn’t really easy. Those have been the nature of wickets we have seen so far,” Bangare told reporters following the defeat.

“But we didn’t really bat to our potential. It was a gettable score. I just felt the batsmen let the team down.

“We encountered this situation even in the previous game when we lost a couple of wickets in the first 10 overs but we still managed to get 260 on a wicket which was very, very damp. Suffice to say we have been playing on wickets which have been difficult.”

He added: “Credit to them (West Indies). They executed their plans really well but I just felt it was a very very gettable score.”

India faltered early, slumping to 47 for three in the 13th over with the in-form pair of opener Shikhar Dhawan (5) and captain Virat Kohli (3) perishing cheaply.

Opener Ajinkya Rahane (60) struck his fourth straight 50-plus score and seasoned campaigner MS Dhoni (54) his second consecutive half-century but the innings collapsed late on with the last four wickets falling for five runs in the space of 13 deliveries.

“The plan was for somebody to bat deeper into the innings. That’s what Ajinkya did till he got out,” Bangar pointed out.

“Till that time we were on course but suddenly we lost couple of wickets. Those wickets in the middle overs actually pushed us back. The run rate just kept on creeping higher and higher.”

Dhoni, usually an attacking player, was uncharacteristically sedate with a single four in his 114-ball innings before he was eighth out in the penultimate over.

But Bangar defended the former skipper, arguing that Dhoni had been forced to be patient because of the clatter of wickets around him.

“You need to assess the conditions. At times you need to play according to the demand of the situation. MS is batting higher up the order,” Bangar explained.

“The kind of depth we have in our batting order at number six, seven and eight when they can’t really come off, he (Dhoni) can’t play with the freedom that he should.

“It all boils down to how the batsmen at the other end are batting, how many wickets we have in hand.”

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