The T20 series may have been lost, but amid the introspection, team director Ravi Shastri stayed optimistic and even ticked a few boxes. Not everyone could justify their place in the team but Shastri said he got a glimpse of what he had and what he wanted.
There is no denying that he is aware of the mismatch. He admitted that the final destination was the ICC World T20, and that India are far from picking the best combination. The bowlers, especially the seamers, have not inspired confidence in Shastri, for whom the pieces are yet to fall in place.
“As a unit, we have played very little T20 cricket in bilateral series. It’s a young team, we’re still figuring out what will be our best combination, the best way forward. No better preparation than playing a team like South Africa who play more T20 cricket than any other team in the world,” said Shastri with reference to finding his perfect squad.
Terming the choice of players leading to the World T20 as work in progress, it is evident that the team is still casting its net wide to fill in the gaps.
“Six months to go, form will be crucial. There’s plenty of one-day cricket coming up --- December till January. We have some T20Is in Australia and then Sri Lanka are coming to India. There’s the Asia Cup. A lot of T20 cricket will be played. It’s a great opportunity to throw the hat into the ring, and it could be young or old, form will be crucial,” said Shastri.
Deep down, Shastri knows where the gap is. Already hinting at MS Dhoni’s elevation, the replacement will have to man the No 6 spot. Shastri would not mind looking outside the team, indicating how the available resources haven’t yielded desired results.
“That is why we are keen to see December when all the oneday competitions are scheduled. The No 6 position has a different role in 50-overs cricket, but an extremely important role in T20 cricket. The team that goes on to win the World T20, you will see that their No 6 batsman could be a very crucial player,” said Shastri, confirming his search for a No 6.
While Shastri would like to call it ‘work in progress’, there is a project he has personally taken up --- to get Dhoni back to his aggressive best. The fact that the debate around a new No 6 revolves around Dhoni’s not-so-impressive form of late, Shastri admitted how it is was a priority for the man to get his batting mojo back.
“That will be the endeavour. We know what he (Dhoni) can do when he starts striking. The world knows.”