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‘Shastri has moulded India into world beaters’

‘I am particularly happy that an Indian has done such a superb job as the coach because people always talk about foreign coaches, but Shastri has dashed all those views.’

Former chief selector Kiran More hails the impact of his former team-mate, Indian cricket’s Head Coach Ravi Shastri, saying he has moulded Virat Kohli and his boys into “world beaters”.

The concluding segment of Kiran More’s interview with Rediff.com‘s Harish Kotian.

  • Part 1: ‘Our batting has not clicked’

As a chief selector, you placed a lot of trust in youth and gave a lot of chances to young players.
In the last couple of years, we have seen a lot of exciting talent coming through — Rishabh Pant, Mohammed Siraj, Washington Sundar, Shubman Gill among others.
How pleasing it to see the young India players taking the world by storm?

You should give BCCI a lot of credit for the structure of Indian domestic cricket and also the National Cricket Academy which plays a key role in developing players.

You also have to recognise the roles played by various state associations in giving the young players a platform. Then you have a big tournament like the IPL, which has been a boon for Indian domestic players.

The domestic players are getting a feel of international cricket in the IPL as they get a chance to bat and bowl against the world’s best players, both in the match and in the nets.

They are part of teams which have some of the big names in world cricket, including the coaches, so they get to talk to them and learn a lot by being in the same dressing room as them.

If you see (Thangarasu) Natarajan, he surprised many by getting to play Test match in Australia, but he performed well with the ball, so the young Indian players have done well at every opportunity.

And now in COVID-19 times with bio-bubbles in place, the teams are going on tours with as many as 30 players in the squad so any player who does well in domestic cricket is getting an opportunity.

If you see this time for the England tour, they have taken Arzaan Nagwaswalla, Abhimanyu Easwaran, Avesh Khan and Prasidh Krishna as the reserve players because they have done well in domestic cricket or tournaments like the IPL.

It will be a great learning experience for these youngsters even though they might only bowl or bat in the nets. There is so much to learn when bowling to someone like (Virat) Kohli or Rohit (Sharma) in the nets, you can’t get any better practice.

They will have the same training programme and diet programme like the entire team so this will be a good process for them as they hope to play for India in the future.

You started your Test career in England in June 1986 at Lord’s and scored 109 runs and took 16 catches in three innings with India going on to win the Test series.
How special is it winning a series in England?

It is always special to win a Test match on your debut, and winning the series made it extra special. That is every cricketer’s dream, to be part of winning teams and for me that debut will always be memorable.

Similarly, for some of the young Indian cricketers, this WTC final will be like playing in a World Cup final. This is a Test match between the world’s two best teams, and I am sure it won’t get over on Day 1 or the third day. It will go all the way down to the fourth day or the fifth day unless one team plays really badly.

This is the first time we will have a game like this in Test cricket, that is why everyone is eagerly looking forward to this match.

The five Test series against England could prove to be a tough assignment for Kohli because India have finished on the losing side on the last two or three tours.
It has been 14 years since India last won a series in England, having last won 1-0 in 2007.
Can India register another series win in England like they did in Australia?

It won’t be easy, it is a five-Test series. If our batsmen perform to expectations in England, then we have the bowling to win Test matches in England.

When you have a good bowling attack, then you can win Test series away from home.

Kohli has been doing a good job as captain, he has done well in Test cricket. Under his leadership, we have reached the final of the World Test Championship, so that shows he has got the desired results as the captain.

We won the series even without Virat (Kohli) when he had to come home for the birth of his child, so that shows that the system he has set up it is working quite well.

The Indian team played out of their skin to win the series in Australia and coach Ravi Shastri also deserves a lot of credit. He has moulded the team into world beaters, so Shastri and the rest of the support staff have done a very good job.

Shastri reads the game very well. He has always been a fighter; even in his playing days he never used to give up. He had this attitude that he always wanted to be a winner, he wanted to score hundreds, take five wickets and take his team to victory.

I am particularly happy that an Indian has done such a superb job as the coach because people always talk about foreign coaches, but Shastri has dashed all those views.

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