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Ravi Shastri insists players more important to India than coach

Ravi Shastri, back with the Indian cricket team after Anil Kumble resigned following the ICC Champions Trophy final defeat, made it clear that the team’s rise to the top of Test cricket was because of the efforts of the players over the last few years

cricket Updated: Jul 19, 2017 23:55 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
Ravi Shastri,India vs Sri Lanka,IND v SL
Indian cricket team head coach Ravi Shastri speaks during a press conference before leaving for their Sri Lanka tour in Mumbai on Wednesday.(AP)

The kind of hype surrounding the India team coach’s appointment over the last few weeks gave the impression that it was the most important job after the country’s prime minister.

As Virat Kohli & Co enter a new phase with Ravi Shastri at the helm again, the glorified importance attached to the coach’s role came to the fore again when the former India skipper took centrestage on Wednesday, hours before the team’s departure to Sri Lanka for three Tests, five ODIs and a T20I.

Shastri, back with the India team after Anil Kumble resigned following the ICC Champions Trophy final defeat, made it clear that India’s rise to the top of Test cricket was because of the efforts of the players over the last few years.

“These Ravi Shastris, Anil Kumbles will come and go. The fabric of Indian cricket will remain and the credit should go to everyone who has participated in the Indian team in the last three years. If they are No. 1 today, it is the efforts they have put in over the three-year period and they deserve the credit. People like us will come and go,” said Shastri.

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With Shastri getting his choice of support staff and Kohli getting his choice of coach, it has laid the platform for the team to aim higher.

“I don’t think there is added pressure because what has to happen will happen. I believe in that,” Kohli said when asked if there will be additional pressure after getting the coaching staff of his choice. “Regardless of what happens in the outside world, as a team we aspire to achieve what we want to achieve. Everyone has faced hardships in the past. Criticism and being criticised is nothing new. We understand that aspect of playing the sport as well.

“I certainly don’t take added pressure because the responsibility has been given to me. If you think of all these external factors, it is very similar to you going out to bat and thinking what if I get out. It can happen in any scenario and (one has to) move forward,” said Kohli.

Shastri will have to once again look to forge a successful partnership with Kohli after building a good working relationship when the former was the team director for 18 months before Kumble’s appointment. They will start afresh in Sri Lanka, a place where Kohli led the India Test team for the first time in a full series in 2015 since his appointment as skipper in the middle of the Australia tour when MS Dhoni retired after the second Test.

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India capitulated in the first Test at Galle before bouncing back to win the next two Tests and win the series 2-1. From the 2015 Sri Lanka tour to the last Test series against Australia earlier this year, India have lost just one Test, clinching six series in a row.

“I think that was a landmark tour. If you look at the average age of that team a couple of years back, obviously the players have matured from then on, it’s been 24 months. That tour for us was a sort of start of the belief system that we can win away from home and we do have the side required to win away from home,” said Kohli.

“We do have a culture that’s been created in the team to win Tests. The mindset immediately was to try and win the series. Losing the first Test was a shock but the way we bounced back was only because of the team culture that was created at that stage.

“We showed more belief in our abilities that we could win from any situation and that really turned our mindset around. From then on, you can see the results we have had. The same mindset would apply now too,” said Kohli.

First Published: Jul 19, 2017 18:56 IST