"The middle-order in one-day is not doing well and we must, of course, sort it out" - Rathour TNN

It is little surprise that Vikram Rathour, India's newly-appointed batting coach, believes that his primary focus will be on sorting out India's middle order. in the 50-over format. The No.4 slot in ODIs has been a nagging problem Indian cricket has been facing for a while now, with no concrete solution arrived at yet. That aside, the new batting coach believes the opening combination in Test cricket needs to be looked into too.

"The middle-order in one-day is not doing well and we must, of course, sort it out...," Rathour was quoted as telling the BCCI website on Friday (September 6). "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.

"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," he added.

While Manish was in the squad that played in West Indies, he didn't get a game. Shreyas Iyer on the other hand, batted at 5 and was in the middle until the end in two games, being the only other Indian batsman to have scores of fifty and more on two occasions, to finish the series averaging 68. The duo was subsequently named captains of the India A side for the five-match one-day series against South Africa A.

Rathour, who replaced Sanjay Bangar as batting coach, faced conflict of interest charges before they were subsequently dropped. Beginning his tenure with South Africa's tour of India, where they will play a T20I followed by a Test series, he has his work cut out. He also believes that being a former national selector will help him in his current role given his familiarity with the players and the management.

"We have a great set of people in the coaching staff. I have the advantage of knowing them as I was a national selector. It gave me many opportunities to know them and work with all of them. I know the players and have worked with them at some point in time. I have worked with Mr Ravi Shastri, Mr B. Arun and Mr R Sridhar and also Mr Virat Kohli. I know the batters personally and share a good rapport with all of them. It is now about taking it to the next level."

Rathour had retired as a player back in 2003, moving to England thereafter for a period of six years. He then was appointed as the coach of Punjab before being named a selector in 2012. He also is a certified coach of Levels A and B, and has completed Level C from Cricket Australia. He has also coached the Kings XI Punjab in the IPL.

"I have played cricket for many years, but coaching is something you have to learn. Coaching is something very different from playing. I did Level A and B from BCCI and Level C from Cricket Australia. I learned this art. I think coaching is something that you keep getting better at. The idea is about getting better after every session. You can make mistakes and you need to accept that you've made mistakes but need to analyse them and sort them out.

"At this level, man-management is the key. How you support them, how you look after them in tough times has been my strength. The three courses have given me an edge in understanding the technique and technical aspect. I want to create an environment where players aren't scared of making mistakes, where mistakes are not looked down upon because they are learning opportunities. You can fail once in a while, but you must learn from your failures and get better."