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Bangar's got a big heart and a bigger cricket brain, says childhood coach

India all-rounder-turned-coach now coach Sanjay Bangar’s Aurangabad-based childhood coach Kiran Joshi speaks to mid-day about his famous ward

Former India all-rounder Sanjay Bangar was known for his fighting spirit both on the domestic as well as international level. And it is this attitude that has probably helped him succeed as a coach too, with IPL outfit Kings XI Punjab and as assistant coach of Team India. But how a lad from a small town, Beed in Marathwada, made it big, first as a cricketer and then coach, is a fascinating story, as revealed by his childhood coach Kiran Joshi. 

KXIP coach Sanjay Bangar at Wankhede last year. Pic/Suresh KK

Teen wonder
Bangar joined coach Joshi at Aurangabad’s Pioneer Cricket Club as a 13-year-old. "Late Vasant Amladi, a prominent Mumbai-based coach, picked Sanjay with four others from a group of 126, from a 15-day camp organised by our club. Sanjay played the Aurangabad League and from here, got selected into the Maharashtra and zonal U-19 team.

However, despite a good show here, he was not picked for the Aurangabad senior team for the inter-district Jasdanwala tournament. This was the turning point of Sanjay’s career. I remember, I was home by 9 pm that day and at around 11 pm Sanjay and his father came over. His father said that Sanjay was very disappointed and I tried to convince them that he should fight hard to make it next year, but in vain. Sanjay sat on a nearby chair and cried continuously for about half an hour. Then his father asked me about shifting him to Pune or Mumbai for better prospects. I picked Mumbai," Joshi (60) told mid-day at his home in the Osmanpura area of Aurangabad recently.


Sanjay Bangar with his childhood coach Kiran Joshi at Mohali in 2001, where he made his Test debut

His ability to adapt is the secret to Bangar’s success, says Joshi. "Until his Test debut against England at Mohali in 2001, Sanjay was a pure vegetarian. However, a ligament injury in that Test changed him. In order to build muscle and avoid further injury, he was advised to eat meat, and Sanjay agreed," said Joshi.

In Mumbai, Bangar played club cricket for Shivaji Park Gymkhana before going on to represent Railways in the Ranji Trophy and from there, making it to the Indian team. Bangar and Joshi continued to stay in touch through letters. "I remember once he was not picked for India despite a consistent show in first-class cricket for Railways and Central Zone (in Duleep Trophy) and Sanjay wrote to me: ‘Nothing can stop me from reaching my goal (to play for India).’ Such is his determination," added Joshi.

Bangar (42) is grateful to Joshi and has given back to his Aurangabad association too.

"Once I mentioned to Sanjay that our boys continue to play on matting wickets despite turf strips being used elsewhere, and that he should advise us on how to go about procuring turf wickets. Within a few months, he spoke to Nadim Memon, who was then the curator of the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Stadium in Motera, and Nadim spent a month in Aurangabad installing and supervising a number of turf wickets at our district association ground. Sanjay bore the entire cost of the turf wickets, which we use till date," said Joshi.

Generous deed
Bangar’s generosity stretches beyond the cricket field too. "Once I informed him about the death of his childhood friend Kautik Wanse (at just 28), with whom he played a lot of cricket in Aurangabad. Kautik, who hailed from a very poor financial background, left behind his wife, a teenage daughter and son. His mother worked as a housemaid. Sanjay immediately decided to bear all educational expenses of Kautik’s children and did so till both kids completed graduation. Today, Kautik’s daughter is happily married and son has a good job," revealed Joshi, who felt his ward’s determination as a cricketer has helped him excel as coach.

"Sanjay’s cricketing brain and focus have helped him succeed as coach. He knows how to handle players -- be it juniors or an India star. That’s how he managed to take Kings XI Punjab to the last IPL final and helped India reach the World Cup semi-finals. I hope one day, Sanjay returns to Aurangabad to begin his own academy here to help more players from this region scale the heights of international cricket like him," concluded Joshi.

Bangar's achievements...

As player...
>> 12 Tests and 15 ODIs
>> 165 first-class matches
>> Deccan Chargers in 2008
>> Kolkata Knight Riders in 2009

As coach...
>> Assistant coach of IPL’s Kochi Tuskers in 2010
>> Coach of India ‘A’ in 2014
>> Coach of KXIP since 2014
>> Asst coach of India since last year

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