St. Lucia, Aug 10 (IANS) India’s batting coach Sanjay Bangar has heaped praise on star off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin for his valuable contribution with the bat at No.6 at a crucial time in the ongoing Test series against the West Indies.

After a century in the first Test, Ashwin struck an unbeaten 75 alongside wicket-keeper batsman Wriddhiman Saha’s 46 not out to help India overcome an early batting collapse and post 234/5 at stumps on Day 1 in the first innings of the third Test match here on Tuesday.

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Making best out of the second new ball to notch up 46 in nine overs, the unbeaten duo rescued India from collapsing in the first innings and accelerated the run-rate to score 104 in 38 overs during the last session after the West Indies pacers tamed India’s top order to 126 for 5 in the first 52 overs.

“It is just his 3rd innings at No.6 and he has never batted there before the start of this series, so it is just brilliant to see. He is someone we knew had a great potential with the bat but never did so at No.6,” Bangar told reporters after the day’s play on Tuesday.

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“Plus having the knowledge that he is someone who started off as a top-order batsman at the start of his career and contributed immensely for his state team as well.”

“So it gives us options and the type of contribution the lower order is making, puts us in a confidence position whenever the team finds itself in a tight corner,” the former India all-rounder added.

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Bangar also praised Saha’s effort.

“Saha got a 40-odd in both the Tests and he has been making contributions in the lower-order against Sri Lanka and South Africa as well. He has been a fabulous team player and is willing to do anything required of him. And he has consistently proved that he is a good enough player to contribute consistently,” he added.

Sharing the day’s honours evenly, the West Indies dominated the first two sessions while India did in the third and last session, with top scorer Ashwin remaining unbeaten 75 from 190 balls (four boundaries) and Saha 46 not out from 122 balls (four boundaries).

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All efforts by the West Indies captain Janson Holder to break the partnership did not succeed. He used six bowlers, including spinner Roston Chase, who bagged two wickets along with Test debutant Alzarri Joseph.

“I think it is quite a challenging Test wicket and not easy for the batsmen to straight away play their strokes. They have to be very watchful and play the ball under their eye. It was seaming a bit and it was stopping a bit as well. It was a very challenging wicket for the first day for batting, and overall I am very satisfied with the batting effort,” Bangar concluded.

India are 1-0 up in the series after winning the first Test at Antigua.

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