Ravi Shastri is a man who definitely leads by example. A great aspect about India’s Team Director is that he never holds himself back and speaks with his heart up his sleeve. In a recent interview with Cricbuzz, Shastri spoke about India’s performance in 2015. The Team Director said that he was proud of the performance of the young side and praised everyone for their good work. He put key emphasis of India’s recent test triumphs and spoke like a rejuvenated individual. Below, are the excerpts from his interview.
How do you sum up 2015 for Indian cricket?
I believe in letting the performance talk. The facts are out in the open. Let people decide whether we’ve had a great year or not. All I can remember from last year is a win in England for the first time in 24 years. Losing 2-0 in Australia in an outstanding series. Seven wins out of eight games in the World Cup. Beating Sri Lanka for the first time in 23 years in Lanka. Beating a side which hadn’t lost overseas in a decade.
Were you surprised with the way in which the Proteas capitulated in the Tests?
I’m not surprised by that. I don’t go down that route. I was proud of the way our guys played. I give full credit to them for making South Africa play the way they did.
Is Virat Kohli now the right man to lead India in the World T20 and ODIs?
Why do we want to go into that? The year has ended. The selectors do their job. My job is to look after the way the team plays. Like I said, I’m proud of the guys, the way they played. Virat was a young kid who took over the reins one year ago. Today, he’s shown that he’s a leader, after two back-to-back series wins.
Do you advice Virat on how to handle the media? He feels the media is too critical?
We don’t look into all that. Our job is to get runs, take wickets and pick your catches. After that, what people want to say, they are entitled to say. They get paid to talk and write. So, go ahead and do what you want!
Do you think that MS Dhoni’s powers are declining?
He’s a champion. You never mess around with class, proven talent, players who have done more in that format of the game than anybody else. When it comes to winning titles… there’s no one who’s won more than him. So, let’s not talk about a champion who can wake up any time!
There was a lot of talk about the pitches. But how much planning went into plotting the downfall of SA’s big guns?
Plenty. That’s where the support staff and the players deserve due credit. The fact that you were able to take 60 wickets… in fact 70… if we had full five days in Bangalore, who knows, this could’ve been 4-0. The catches that were taken… and when it mattered the batting stepped up in the fourth Test. We just outplayed South Africa. Ian Chappell and John Wright have supported India’s tactics of playing on turners. Do you feel vindicated? Listen, you play on a surface which is the same for both the teams. It doesn’t matter to me. Whichever part of the world, whatever surface you’ve been given, you’ve a chance to go out and play for a win, and we did exactly that.
What is the reason for R Ashwin’s stupendous renaissance?
He has to be given all the credit for the fact that he went back to the basics. He was prepared to put in the hard yards and be patient. There’s no doubting the fact that he’s a smart cricketer who understands his game. Once he was prepared to put in the hard yards and go back to square one, the results followed. Today, you’re seeing that he’s undoubtedly the best off-spinner in the world.
Do you think turning tracks are unfairly viewed as dangerous?
I don’t think any of the surfaces which we played on now, would’ve hurt even a fly! So the question of it being dangerous doesn’t exist. People can say whatever they want, I just see the score line. India beat South Africa, a team which hadn’t lost for nine years, 3-0.
Have you had a heart-to-heart chat with Rohit. Do you fear that he might underachieve in Tests?
He’s still a young man. I’ve absolutely no doubt in my mind, and the team management as well, that we’ve total faith in his abilities and we’re prepared to be patient.
Why is Cheteshwar Pujara getting bowled again and again?
That we’ll talk out in our next team meeting. What I would only remember is his 145. When he got the opportunity there again was a player who was out of the side, when he got a chance, he played a match-winning innings.