"This team is looking good and they have their priorities in place. They're hungry to prove themselves at home and away. For two years, barring the tour of Sri Lanka in July and August, we played at home, especially the whole of 2016, and while that was a job well done, these boys understand the importance of the year 2018. Frankly, we're not too hooked on to this "home and away" thing where a lot of chatter goes on about conditions that aren't too familiar. For instance, once you've played a Test match in Kolkata, how long does it take before you play another Test there? Two years? Sometimes three? It's the same as an overseas tour. So that mindset is quite passe'. In this day and age, wherever you go, it's home. You just got to walk in there and perform. It's often been argued that India are poor travellers. We want to be the team that helped change this perception and this is the year to do it." Shastri was quoted as saying by Times of India.
He also explained certain selection, saying that Bumrah has earned his place in the team while Kuldeep has been left out only because conditions in South Africa won't aid wrist-spinners.
"The kind of tracks that will be made available to us in South Africa won't come in too handy for a wrist spinner, which is what Kuldeep is. That aside, this is going to be a long journey and there are multiple things to focus on, including the next World Cup (2019). Right now, Ashwin is fresh after two busy seasons post the 2015 World Cup. When you look at the overall combination of this attack, it rounds off very well. That aside, both Ashwin and Jadeja can bat. Putting runs on the board will be as important as picking wickets."
"Bumrah has just worked his way to the top so well. He's young, hard working, and has a unique action with which he can whip up quite some pace. Bumrah adds a lot of value to this attack. We have to earn those 20 wickets if we have to make any impact in a Test match and we need all the arsenal possible because it's going to be quite a testing tour. Look at how the South African squad is turning out, Dale Steyn's back, [Morne] Morkel's looking good (he had sustained a side strain against Bangladesh in October), then there's [Kagiso] Rabada, [Vernon] Philander. It's about being able to have a combination that can be rotated and we have neat options." Shastri added.
He said ideally the team would have liked more time to adjust to the conditions in South Africa and that is something which has been taken into consideration in the new FTP.
"Ideally, we'd have preferred a good 10 to 12 days in South Africa before the start of the Tests. But that's fine. Going forward, the BCCI has assured us that these things will be looked at differently.
The BCCI has done an excellent job with the new Future Tours Program (FTP). The Board has ensured that the team will no longer go on such long tours that involve two or three months at a go. The idea is to break up these long tours just the way England and Australia operate. England has always preferred to tour India for Tests, go back, and return for the shorter formats. This is how India's going to operate moving forward. This kind of scheduling will also help teams prepare better and stay focused on the format they're heading to play." Shastri Said.
First Published: December 9, 2017, 10:09 AM IST