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Ravi Shastri ‘exposes’ why India failed in Tests vs South Africa

Ravi Shastri-coached Indian cricket team, looking to win its first Test series in South Africa, is 0-2 down ahead of the final game from Wednesday, having opted not to play the lone warm-up tie and instead train due to a crammed schedule.

cricket Updated: Jan 23, 2018 08:22 IST
Somshuvra Laha
Somshuvra Laha
Hindustan Times, Johannesburg
South Africa vs India,SA vs IND,Ravi Shastri
Indian cricket team skipper Virat Kohli and coach Ravi Shastri have been facing flak after some poor calls during the series vs South Africa cricket team, including the composition of the playing XI in the first two Tests which the visitors lost rather badly. (Getty Images)

It took India coach Ravi Shastri two Test defeats to come out and say his team might have been short by 10 days of practice in the most important overseas tour of the last three years. At both Newlands and Centurion, India looked a solid bowling side but their vaunted batting came a cropper with the exception of skipper Virat Kohli’s 153 in the second Test and Hardik Pandya’s 93 in Cape Town.

Conditions were given as an excuse but it can’t be blamed while the batsmen went about playing loose shots, didn’t bother about partnerships and found new ways to be run out.

On arrival in Cape Town, Shastri had said the team will have to adapt to every condition in seven days.

VITAL TO ADAPT

On Monday though, he virtually conceded it was easier said than done.

“Conditions back home, we are familiar with. Here, conditions are different. In hindsight, I would say another ten days of practice here would have made a difference. But that’s no excuse. The pitch we play on, it’s the same for both sides and I would rather focus on the 20 wickets we have taken,” he said at a media interaction at the Wanderers ahead of the final Test, starting on Wednesday.

There have been reports that the team wanted to skip at least the T20 matches against Sri Lanka at home and reach South Africa earlier than scheduled. It was argued sending the Test specialists -- Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, R Ashwin and Wriddhiman Saha -- earlier would have helped, but Shastri said it was never a feasible plan.

“There was a thought, but then you are disjointed. Who is going to handle things here, preparation-wise or whatever? Those thoughts can be put in hindsight. But in hindsight, I would say the best thing would be, reach two weeks earlier.”

ANGRY WITH BCCI

Monday’s press conference can also be viewed as a calculated way of expressing the team’s outrage at BCCI officials responsible for international scheduling. Apart from Virat Kohli, only Shastri has the stature to confront the men who matter on this. By saying India can do well only if they are given enough preparation time, Shastri has put the ball in BCCI’s court.

“Unfortunately the schedule was such that you had matches. But I am sure henceforth in the future when itineraries are made, that will be taken into account; there is absolutely no doubt about that. You get there a couple of weeks earlier and prepare,” he said.

This Test series is done and dusted, but with England and Australia lined up for later in the year, the team doesn’t want any repeat of what happened before South Africa. However, the BCCI is treading the same path by fitting in an out-of-turn Test against Afghanistan in Bangalore, barely 10 days before the team flies to England to kick off their tour with T20s.

First Published: Jan 22, 2018 22:36 IST