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India head coach Ravi Shastri wants to turn his team’s consistency into the kind of celebrated golden legacy of the great West Indies and Australia sides of the past.
Shastri has just overseen a clean sweep in the Caribbean, where a ruthless India blanked West Indies in all three formats. “This kind of consistency I have not seen any time,” Shastri, who was recently given an extension in the job until the 2021 T20 World Cup, told Gulf News. “This team has an opportunity to do great things. We have a legacy like the West Indies did in the eighties and Australia did at the turn of the century. This team, too, has an opportunity to leave that kind of legacy, and they are already doing it.”
India’s overseas performances have improved significantly in recent years and under Shastri they have won series in West Indies, Sri Lanka and Australia, the latter a historic 2-1 triumph earlier this year. India have been No. 1 in the ICC’s Test rankings since October 2016, and were favourites at the recent ODI World Cup, alongside hosts England. Their campaign, however, was ended by a semi-final loss to New Zealand, following a top-order collapse. That was a second successive semi-final exit for India, currently the world’s second-ranked ODI side.
In T20Is, India are fourth in the ICC rankings. They won seven straight T20I series, including the four-team Nidahas Trophy, between November 2017 to November 2018, a streak that included away wins in South Africa (2-1), Ireland (2-0) and England (2-1), but they lost series in New Zealand and at home against Australia. “Look at how we have performed in T20, one-dayers and Tests and even in the big ICC tournaments, it is unbelievable,” Shastri said. “People used to say earlier that we only perform at home and we don’t do anything abroad. Now they are saying the opposite as wherever they are going they are performing.”
Shastri also rubbished recent reports of differences between Kohli and Rohit, Shastri said India India would not have performed the way they have if there was a rift between the two, neither would the pair have scored as freely as they have in recent series.
“Listen, I have been around the dressing room for the last five years. I have seen how the boys have played and how they have complemented the team and know their work ethics. I feel it is absolute nonsense (reports of a rift). I have been there with them and I know the way they play. If that was the case why would Rohit get five hundreds in the World Cup? Why would Virat do what he is doing? How would they have partnerships together?
“In a side when you have 15 players there will always be times when there will be opinions that will be different. That is what is needed. I don’t want everyone toeing the same line. You have got to have discussions and someone might then think of a fresh strategy, which has to be encouraged. So you have to give the guys the opportunity to express themselves and then decide what is best. Sometimes it might be the junior-most player in the team who may come up with a strategy which we hadn’t even thought of and we need to bring that to the table. So these should not be seen as a conflict.”