Things are finally looking bright for the BCCI after nearly a month of turmoil and speculation. The departure of Anil Kumble from the Indian setup was present with its own share of blame games and allegations, something that clearly damaged the reputation of Indian cricket. Things looked dismal once India bowed down to Pakistan and days later, Kumble making the move out of the camp.
From that moment onwards, the side desperately needed someone of great repute and pedigree as the next Indian coach. Ultimately the Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC) had to choose between three primary individuals to take over as the Indian coach. If sources are to be believed, the committee had a real hard time selecting one of Tom Moody and Ravi Shastri.
Both candidates brought their own sets of values, virtues and pros to the table. With both having considerable experience of managing cricket outfits, it was a difficult call to select just one for the destined role. Ultimately, it was Shastri who won the CAC’s trust and named the next Indian coach, with his campaign set to take off from the upcoming tour of Sri Lanka.
But the question still remains, Why Ravi Shastri and not Tom Moody? Given the Australia’s ocean of coaching experience with Sri Lanka, in the Big Bash League and in the Indian Premier League, ignoring him wasn’t seen as a wise move. Moody was perceived to be someone of extremely high caliber, who could easily transform India into an ever better outfit from all fronts.
But then at the end of the day, there stood a few factors which shift the pendulum in Shastri’s favor. First and foremost, it was the relationship with skipper Virat Kohli, which was a decisive factor. It is no secret that Kohli blossomed tremendously under the mentoring of Ravi Shastri, when the latter was India’s Team Director, from mid 2014 till early 2016.
When Shastri first took over as the team director post India’s disastrous Test series in England, Kohli was at an all time low. Having scored just 134 runs in 10 innings on the tour, the Indian run machine was terribly low on confidence and self belief. With the Mumbai all rounder coming in, Kohli slowly began to get his mojo back. Under Shastri’s sharp vision, Kohli ironed out the flaws within his batting, one including his tentativeness under the off stump.
For India’s very next Test assignment in Australia in 2014/15, people witnessed a new Virat Kohli altogether. Here, was a batsman, who took the Australians head on in their own backyard. Batting with a slightly altered and open stance and outside the crease, Kohli was there to boss the daunting Aussie quicks. Amassing over 600 runs in the four games, with four super impressive centuries to his name, Kohli was back to where he belonged – right at the top. From that moment, there wasn’t any looking back for the batsman as he piled up records for fun. Kohli himself credited Shastri for his improvement in batting and overcoming the technical glitches.
In all, under Shastri’s tenure as the Team Director, Kohli scored 1139 runs in 12 Tests, at an average of 54.23, with five centuries to his name. From the ODI front too, Kohli enjoyed a fruitful association with Shastri, having scored runs at an average in excess of 51, in 35 games, with 6 centuries to his credit. But it was Kohli’s transformation as a beast in T20’s, which stunned everyone. In 15 innings under Shastri, Kohli scored an unimaginable 735 runs at an eye popping average of 91.87 to go with a strike rate of 142.16. To complete the T20I stat, Kohli scored 8 half centuries, meaning a 50+ score in less than every alternate game. Those half centuries included 3 successive ones in Australia, which ultimately yielded an historic whitewash win over the Kangaroos in early 2016!
The relationship with Kohli was one big factor for the former all rounder’s appointment. Apart from that, it was his attitude behind the scenes which helped his cause. Not just Kohli alone, but several others felt a sense of comfort and relief under Shastri and blossomed under him. The likes of Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul and Manish Pandey were a few such names. The team spirit what Shastri brought to the side after a phase of lull was what defined him as a successful man manager. The term “Yes we can” was given a new meaning altogether with Shastri at the helm of affairs.
Another reason behind him outperforming Tom Moody would be the tried and tested factor. Under his mentoring, India achieved considerable success, making it to the semi finals of the 2015 World Cup and 2016 World T20. The victories included an impressive run in T20I’s, where India whitewashes Australia Down Under, and then remained unbeaten in the T20 Asia Cup in 2016 in Bangladesh. Tests wise, India came from down to give Australia an extremely tough fight in their previous assignment Down Under and despite being 0-2 down, played with sheer aggression and authority, which stood out. The side later went on to beat Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka for the first time in 22 years, before thrashing South Africa 0-3 in December 2015.
In all, Shastri’s appointment should be seen as optimistic news by Indian fans. The sheer aura he brings to the fore is something beyond superlatives. The Shastri-Kohli combo is well capable of taking Indian cricket to colossal heights, like never before.