Team India, under their new coach Ravi Shastri, have won the Test series against Sri Lanka 2-0 with the third Test beginning on Saturday. After Indian skipper Virat Kohli’s fall-out with Anil Kumble, Shastri was chosen to coach the team till the 2019 World Cup. Kohli had favoured Shastri as the two share a great rapport with each other.
At the time of Shastri’s appointment as coach, many trolls had suggested that the former Indian all-rounder would be nothing but a cheerleader for Team India.
And India’s win over Sri Lanka in the Test series has made Shastri sing paeans in glory of Kohli and Co. He has said that Virat Kohli and Co. had already done things that many Indian teams and cricketers of the past could not do in their careers. Shastri is referring to India’s two successive series win in Sri Lanka under Kohli and their winning run in the longer version of the game in the past couple of seasons.
Since the 2015 loss at the Galle Test, India have lost just one match in 25 Tests. That’s quite an achievement and made Shastri talk out loud about Kohli and his team’s achievements.
None but former Indian skipper Mohammad Azharuddin reacted to Shastri’s claims. Azhar said that Shastri’s claim is belittling other Indian teams and legends of the past. And Shastri too has been part of them.
Azhar said, “He’s being disrespectful to himself as well, as he has been part of Indian teams of the past. But you can’t stop people from commenting. Probably he might have missed out the fact that India were up against a jaded Sri Lankan side, the side that even struggled to win against a team like Zimbabwe.”
Shastri’s words of motivation to his players are praiseworthy, but India’s success in Tests has come at home and the sub-continental conditions of Sri Lanka and flat decks of West Indies.
Until India can repeat their performance in tough tours of Australia, New Zealand, England, South Africa, they will still be far from being considered one of the legendary Test teams of all eras.
Kumble was a tough taskmaster who brought in discipline to the squad. However, it did not go down well with Kohli and Co. who preferred a ‘cheerleader’ coach in Shastri who will back their team in losses, wins and even in facile wins coming against easy opponents.
The team under Sourav Ganguly was also a great team that notched up Test wins overseas in England, Australia, Pakistan. Until Kohli and Co. could repeat that performance, Shastri should hold his praise till then. Otherwise, it will turn India into spoilt brats who know they have a godfather in Shastri to support, back and praise them on every opportunity, even if they perform below expectations, as accountability will be low and they will be let-off with mediocre performance as well. Maybe Shastri is playing it safe and does not wish to go the Kumble way.