'I went to Virat and said 'this is the guy' but he said no': Shastri on how his gamble on star India batter paid off

  • Ravi Shastri has revealed an interesting story from 2017 during his tenure as India head coach, where his backing of a star batter paid off despite resistance shown by captain Virat Kohli. 
Ravi Shastri and Virat Kohli. (Getty)
Ravi Shastri and Virat Kohli. (Getty)
Updated on Jan 10, 2022 01:38 PM IST
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By, New Delhi

Ravi Shastri has revealed an interesting story from 2017 during his tenure as India head coach, where his backing of a star batter paid off despite resistance shown by captain Virat Kohli. Shortly after the Champions Trophy 2017, India had toured Sri Lanka for a three-match Test series with the BCCI-named squad set to get involved in the thick of things.

However, it emerged that one of the team's frontline opening batters, Murali Vijay, hadn't entirely recovered from a surgery he had undergone on his wrist. In came a replacement batter who had not been in the mix for a long time, but received backing from Shastri for a place in the Playing XI.

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That replacement was Shikhar Dhawan. The left-handed batter had top scored in the Champions Trophy with 338 runs at an average of 67.60. Shastri recalls how with Vijay injured, he had tried to persuade Virat Kohli into including Dhawan in the team for the opening Test at Galle but the captain wasn't too much in favour of the move.

"I remember one when people talk about selection... and it was a great selection. Shikhar Dhawan, he was not going to play, he was not in the mix. He had a good Champions trophy. I went to Virat and said, 'this is guy', but he said 'no'. He said ‘we were thinking about giving someone a run. So we thought we will carry on with this process," Shastri said on 'The Bold and Brave, The Ravi Shastri Way' show on Star Sports.

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Shastri went on to explain that he would have to persist Kohli about granting Dhawan a place in the XI. Having said that, the move worked wonders as the left-handed batter, on his comeback into the XI, smashed 190 off just 168 balls inside two session on Day 1 with 31 fours. India won the Test match by a massive 304 runs but Sri Lanka could never recover from that early onslaught and went on to be blanked 0-3 for a remarkable Test series win by the Indian team.

"I said 'No, give this guy a go. He is looking dangerous. He is looking good. If he gets going, he will win you the match in a session. First game he plays, he gets 190 before tea. That was it. The stamp on the series was right there. And then once they lost the first game, it was one after the other," pointed out Shastri.

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