‘MS Dhoni has done the dirty work for the last donkeys years’: Ravi Shastri
Indian Team Director Ravi Shastri explained his philosophy on the next home series against South Africa. Shastri was holding a press conference in Bangalore, where Indian cricketers are undergoing a fitness test and holding a preparatory camp for the grueling series.
Shastri said that South Africa, who yet to be defeated in foreign shore since 2006, “is a stiff opposition” for India. “You have got to respect the fact they are the No. 1 team in the world. We know what we are up against. They are a stiff opposition. They play well in overseas conditions. They travel better than any other team, and their record shows that. We know what we are up against, the respect is there, but we won’t take any backward steps”.
Meanwhile, Shastri confirmed that captain Dhoni will bat at no. 4. He said Dhoni “has done the dirty work for the last donkeys years.” So, give him the chance to enjoy.
“You are talking of probably one of the greatest captains and players to have played the game. I am not talking about India, but world cricket. Check his record, what his achievements are in the shorter format of the game. I don’t think anyone will come close to him”, Shastri told journalists.
Shastri also shared his thoughts on an array of subjects ranging from his experience of handling different assignments, lesson learnt from the historic series win in Sri Lanka, the South African challenge and the need to maintain consistency.
Talking about the batsman’s comfort zone, Shastri said,”Nobody is in a comfort zone. As a batsman in the top-order, you should be prepared to bat everywhere. You had Shikhar injured, breaking his arm and Vijay was also out. We never had our two regular openers fully fit from the outset. If that was the case, then things would have been different. These were unforeseen circumstances, else they wouldn’t have had to do it (reshuffled batting order)”
Shastri even after winning the Sri Lanka series said, the Australia tour was his most successful tour. He cites the experience of India 2-0 Test series defeat in Australia and then the remarkable bounce back in the World Cup, where India registered semifinal finish. He also said the Down Under tour also learnt him the hard lesson.
“Two years down the line, you’ll know where I am coming from. The result was 2-0 down, right, and then we had a great World Cup, but the lessons learnt on that tour were hard lessons to learn. That is being put into practice, which I am really heartened by. You can see this is a young team, which is passionate. They want to learn. They don’t want to rest on their laurels. They want to be consistent”.
Asked how much it will be different for Indian team when MS Dhoni once again lead India in limited over cricket. Shastri first snapped any difference, then said, “the world cup winning is a legend and one of all time greats of world cricket. So when he will lead, then everything falls into place automatically. For the team, it is no difference. They played under him in the World Cup the last time they played a one-day game. They played under him in Bangladesh. So what’s different now? They are playing under a champion”.
The Indian director also said that India’s five bowlers theory will depend on pitch conditions and opposition and team combination. “You have got to respect the conditions, it (five bowlers theory) is never a permanent strategy. In this game, you can’t go and say I am going to go with this team. Because, it will backfire on you if the conditions are totally different. It’s very important you study the opposition you are up against, and then decide what is the best combination of your team. You might need six batsmen, you might need four-and-a-half bowlers, you might need just a bowler to do the job, to give the main bowlers the rest”.
About the experience of Sri Lanka series, he said, “you don’t think a game is over until it is over. You stick to what you have been doing. You win one session after the other on a regular basis to win a Test match. That were the immediate lessons that were learnt”.