The recent spat between India’s team director Ravi Shastri, and curator Sudhir Naik took a new turn as Shastri in an interview made his stand evident. Shastri also slammed Sanjay Manjrekar for his comments and said that it was easy to act as a moral cop despite not knowing the true story. It is alleged that Shastri, in a sarcastic tone mocked the nature of the wicket laid out by Sudhir Naik for the fifth ODI in Mumbai.
Recently, Sanjay Manjrekar had criticized Shastri for his behavior and said that he shouldn’t have commented that. The Indian Team director responded in style in an interview to Mumbai Mirror. Below, are the excerpts from the interview.
So what did you tell Sudhir Naik?
It is exactly what I had said before. Nothing more and nothing less.
That it was an excellent pitch and well done.
But why did he accuse you of abuse?
That is his problem. I have told you what I had told him.
Your bowling coach Bharat Arun is alleged to have threatened the Wankhede curator…
All he told him was ‘why didn’t you pick up my phone?’
Sanjay Manjrekar criticised you over the incident…
To be a moral Hawaldar (Police), it is very important that you get your facts right. And you see both sides of a coin. At times, it is easier to play cricket and do commentary.
How do you analyse the performance of the Indian team in the T20s and ODIs?
I think it was a good series. We were up against a tough side. It was a good series and in the last game, we were totally outplayed. Notwithstanding the fact that it was a very big toss, I thought they batted outstandingly well. We can’t take the credit away from the three centurions. They put the game beyond us with that score (435/4).
Do you think the recent defeats have anything to do with South Africans’ familiarity with Indian pitches?
That would have definitely helped them. A lot of their players have played in the IPL. It was a close series but I imagine the Test series to be the same.
The Test series will be close for sure. But will the result be different?
See, they are the No 1 team in the world. Their track record is excellent in Tests. It is going to be an extremely competitive series. I think it will be the best series in India in the last many many years.
South Africa have not lost a Test series in seven years…
That’s right. That’s why I believe the series will be very competitive. This is a series the whole Indian team is looking forward to.
South Africa have not lost in India since 1996…
Our job will be to do something different. For that we will have to be extremely competitive and ruthless.
What is the key to the outcome of the series?
Against a side like South Africa, we have to be a good all-round team. We need to focus on our strengths and make sure our execution is spot-on.
The South African side is very experienced. Are you not a little handicapped in that area?
We know what we are up against. Like I have said we are here to compete and not go by past record.
Many commentators have had reservations against your combination with Virat Kohli and the team’s aggression…
This is one way we want to play Test cricket, competitive and ruthless. If aggression is part of it, so be it.
You have been in the job for over a year. Do you think Indian coaches can run the team or is a foreign coach the answer?
It is for you guys to sit back, evaluate what we have done in the last 14 months and judge for yourself. We have won over 75 per cent of oneday games. We have lost one Test series in Australia 2-0. I thought it was tremendous. Then we have beaten Sri Lanka 2-1, after 23 years. The most important tournament in between was the World Cup in which we have done fabulously. We won seven out of eight games and lost to the world champions. Let people judge. We did our job with the best of our ability. You decide what we have done in the last 14 months and pass your judgement.
How is it dealing with two captains?
They are two different personalities. But the years I have spent in the game as a player, as a broadcaster and wearing various hats have helped immensely. That experience has come to very good use.