Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Need bowlers to compete overseas: Shastri

MUMBAI: The BCCI decided to appoint 'crisis man' Ravi Shastri as Team India director after the Test series debacle in England not just to improve the side's performance but also to polish its image, which suffered yet another dent because of another overseas hammering.

On Monday, during a media interaction here, the former India all-rounder 'batted' his heart out for his team, defending and praising his 'boys' vigorously.

For starters, he thinks there is nothing wrong with MS Dhoni's captaincy, who he feels is hampered by lack of bowlers who can take 20 wickets for him in overseas conditions.

"I don't care who the captain is, if you can't take 20 wickets, no one can do anything, not even the coach. It doesn't matter if you have big names in the team. Give him two experienced pacers who bowl well outside India, and he'll be a different entity," Shastri said.

"When you know you can't take 20 wickets, you don't have the bowlers to compete in those conditions, you start running out of ideas. You get defeated, at times, in the mind, thinking, where am I going to take those 20 wickets."

Shastri reiterated that under-fire India coach Duncan Fletcher was "a brilliant and a seasoned coach."

Why does the Zimbabwean stay aloof and unavailable to the media all the time? "I've told Fletcher he has got to smile. It's the best way to please the press...talk to them once in while," Shastri said in jest, while clarifying it wasn't important who, amongst he, the coach or captain, was the 'boss' of the team, as long as the team produced results.

The new man in charge of Indian cricket has made a welcome resolve: To make the gifted Suresh Raina discover a Test cricketer in him.

"He's brilliant to watch, a class act. It's a treat to watch him bat, even in the nets. My endeavor is to do something that would get him back into the Test team," Shastri stressed.

He has similar praise for the other 'class act' in the Indian team, Rohit Sharma too. Shastri felt that star bat Virat Kohli, who had a disastrous England tour, would bounce back with a 'bang.' He compared Kohli's struggle against James Anderson to Brian Lara floundering against Glenn McGrath before fighting back.

"It (a slump) has happened to the best players. A technical flaw can creep in during a series. He was up against bowlers who had the patience, experience and ability to exploit it.

James Anderson was like a tiger on the prowl against him, he sensed his technical flaw and kept at it. Having said that, I know Virat. No one hurts more than him. No one has a better work ethic or works harder than him. I see him bouncing back big time. He'll be a better player when he scores runs again, because this experience will stand him in good stead," Shastri summarized.

Defending the Indian team, Shastri said: "People have short memories in this country. Which team in the last four years can boast of a record of having won two World Cups, made the final of a third, reached No. 1 ranking in Test cricket. I believe in this team. I feel it will show results in a couple of years down the line."

He pointed out that apart from South Africa, no other international team was travelling well these days.

He felt that the ICC must cut out T20 games and reduce ODIs during tours. He felt even the number of Tests should be reduced to three, instead of five, which worked to the advantage of a home side, and made the contest boring once the visitors were left struggling.

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