Balance and footwork were underlined as the two areas that Cheteshwar Pujara had to work on at the outset of the five-Test series.
Pujara, who was benched for the first Test at Edgbaston, had been included in the Test squad despite struggling for Yorkshire with an average of 14. But the India coaches lead by Ravi Shastri and Sanjay Bangar recognised Pujara, with a little bit of work on his technique, could once again become an effective Test batsman and a catalyst in setting up victories.
Pujara has vindicated the team management's faith and is now after he became the second India batsman to record a century in the series after his captain Virat Kohli. Pujara also played an integral role in India's win at Trent Bridge with half century in the second innings. Yet it was not all so rosy at the beginning. Not included for the first Test, Pujara was involved in an embarrassing run-out at Lord's in the first innings having made 1 off 25 balls.
However, Pujara continued to work on his technique and brought all his strengths to the fore to push a resurgent England bowling attack back and record his first century in England in two visits.
"He was coming off a rough patch and also he hadn't really scored as many runs as he'd have liked in the last 10-11 innings for India," Bangar said. "He was struggling a bit when he joined the team but you cannot really make decisions based on how one does in the first-class format because he's a proven international player. Obviously, certain areas had to be worked on. He had to get his balance right and he also had to get his footwork right. Those were the two areas we worked on as a support-staff group - including Ravi and myself."
Along with "composure, clarity of thought and great discipline in his judgement outside off," what also stood out for Bangar was how Pujara mixed "caution and aggression" to construct his innings. "Talent can not only be seen in class, but also in a strong will," Bangar said. "He showed mental strength, patience and the concentration today. If you have all those characteristics then you can show that, even if you have some limitations in terms of scoring areas or not possessing all the strokes, then you can become an effective Test player."
Bangar admitted the same could not be said about some of the lower-order batsmen, who he acknowledged played recklessly. The two he singled out were the allrounders pairing of Hardik Pandya and R Ashwin, who Bangar said provided "soft" dismissals.
"Hardik really wasn't on top of the ball while driving and Ashwin attempted that reverse sweep at a pretty early stage in his innings. If he was set and batting with the tail, one could have thought that shot was on."
India's problems had been compounded when Pujara lost Rishabh Pant at the stroke of tea. Having marked his first Test runs with a six at Trent Bridge, Pant was numbingly quiet this time, scoring a 29-ball duck to equal the India record. Bangar said Pant was given no "directions" over how to go about his innings, he just did not get "scoreable" balls as the England bowlers pitched on difficult lengths for him to play with freedom.
"Rishabh didn't get any loose deliveries till he got out. He was being tested outside off by the seamers, who kept on bowling those lengths and lines. There was no clear direction to him that he should bat in a particular fashion. We encourage batters to bat in their individual style and make their own choices."