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India’s T20 Setup is a Work in Progress and There’s a Lot to be Done: Shastri

Beginning August 19, the BCCI will begin the process of picking Shastri’s support staff and the coach has backed the likes of Bharat Arun and R Sridhar.

Cricketnext Staff |August 18, 2019, 12:34 PM IST
India coach Ravi Shastri (right) with Virat Kohli. (Pic: AFP)

While continuity is expected to help Ravi Shastri in the next 26 months as the head coach of the Indian cricket team, he will need all the good fortune possible with India set to play back to back ICC T20 World Cups apart from challenging tours and of course the World Test championship.

Shastri, who is yet to lead India to the finals of an ICC tournament, has set his sights on the T20 World Cups and believes that the Indian team needs a fresh lease of life in the shortest format of the game.

“In T20Is, we need to take a fresh perspective and consolidate on the fabulous talent we have. One-day cricket and T20s have vastly different identities and T20 is a wholly different ballgame and that is how we are going to pursue it,” Shastri told ToI.

“At best four or maximum five cricketers from the present 50-over setup fit in a T20 perspective right now. We need to begin with that perspective and build on it. In T20Is, we're No. 4 and that's because we've not played those many matches in that format recently. It's still a work in progress and there's a lot more to be done.”

“That constant flow of fresh, young talent has to be there. Be it Rishabh or Jasprit Bumrah, Kuldeep, Hardik, Mayank, Shankar - they're there, constantly raising their hands up. That kind of a pool does wonders when the only objective is to ensure you don't end up with, let's say, any kind of deadwood. The same will happen as we go about building our T20 perspective. There's quite a bit of a talent pool out there that needs constant tapping,” Shastri added.

There are no 50-over ICC commitments in the near future and Shastri is not only happy with how the team has developed so far but also expects to see more new faces in the mix.

“That's true but at the same time we have a good one-day setup that will continue. One of the areas we concentrated on over the last two years was to blood as many youngsters as possible. Shreyas Iyer, for instance, he is going to stay at No. 4. There are more youngsters who will get a look-in.”

Shastri however admits that the World Cup semi-final defeat to New Zealand ranks as his biggest disappointment in the last couple of years.

“Those 30 minutes changed everything. We were right there and then it all slipped away. We played some very good cricket through the tournament. We won more matches than any other team, topped the table and that spoke of our dominance. But then, that's sport.”

T20 cricket is likely to be Shastri’s biggest challenge this time round, but the World Test championship presents a unique set of problems too.

“The beauty of Test cricket is all about playing an opponent in their backyard or defending home turf under challenging conditions over five days. With the Test championship cycle coming in, you add points to that mix. The pride attached with Test cricket is now also a point-based format to be played over a period of two years. There's more to take away from the contest, something to show for when the two-year cycle ends.”

The veteran Shastri has spent close to four decades being associated with Indian cricket and in the coming two years he will look to add more silverware to his stint as coach, a time when he has been praised for the way he has stood behind individual players.

“My job is only to back them, give them all the support required and help them take a look at the bigger picture.”

Beginning August 19, the BCCI will begin the process of picking Shastri’s support staff and the coach has backed the likes of Bharat Arun and R Sridhar.

“I trust them (BCCI) to pick the best among the options available. As for the present support staff, I'll say Bharat Arun has done excellently. Look at the bowling unit we have today - the best in the world. And we're a great fielding side too, so the credit there goes to Sridhar. But as I said, it's not my decision to make.”

“If my advice is sought, I will step in. MSK Prasad and his team have played an important role in the overall development of this team, in backing youngsters and having a very open-minded approach.”

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