Shastri dismisses report of rift between Dhoni and Kohli
Shastri said the two players have <g data-gr-id="101">utmost</g> respect for each other and the Indian team was “one honest bunch” who believed in playing for each other.
“It’s (<g data-gr-id="120">rift</g> between Dhoni and Kohli) the biggest load of bull**** I have been hearing. It’s one honest bunch who believes in playing for each other. That’s why the results you have had over the last year, 70 percent of matches won,” Shastri told PTI in an interview.
“You ought to see the respect they have for each other. Kohli is young, flamboyant, in-your-face character. He will learn with the exposure he gets. He is only 26, let him settle into <g data-gr-id="103">captaincy</g> for a year or two,” he said.
Shastri spoke highly of current ODI captain Dhoni, calling him an all-time legend, who played on his own terms.
“Dhoni is an all-time legend. He is the kind of bloke who plays on his own terms. It?s best exemplified in the manner he quit Test cricket. I would have known many who would have loved to go for a 100-Test milestone,” he said.
Asked whether young players like Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan have settled in the team, Shastri said their best is yet to come.
“They do carry a huge promise. All are young, in the 26- 28 age bracket. Their best is still ahead. It?s not just the figures but their style of cricket that has heartened me. They <g data-gr-id="109">didn</g>?t take a step back; they were in <g data-gr-id="112">face</g> of opposition and that warmed everyone?s heart including Australians.
“Kohli was magnificent. We lost two Tests in Australia and in both of them we aimed wins. 400 runs in each of the four Tests. And the way we stepped up in the World Cup?a good team usually makes the big tournaments count. India raised the bar every time they took the field in the showpiece event.”
Excerpts from the interview:
Having seen these boys in five Tests and some 25 ODIs, how settled they appear to be now?
Ans: The context here is necessary. A win at Lord?s in England. Then hammered out of sight in next three Tests. The boys literally had to pick themselves up from the shoelaces.
That they did. And to have done so with the aggressive brand of cricket for eight months, including four Tests in Australia and World Cup, was <g data-gr-id="108">heady</g>. Even after we lost the first two ODIs in Bangladesh, all I told them was to enjoy the last game. I wanted them to remember they have had an outstanding year. That they had won against every country barring Australia on a cricket field.
How about our bowling. <g data-gr-id="97">Dhoni has</g> been public in his disappointment with the pacers?
Ans: If we are to climb up the ladder, this is an area we need to pay attention. A Test is never won without 20 wickets.
But it’s no panic time yet. We just need to identify bowlers for different conditions, the classic case of horses for courses. It ought not to be all-pace on the subcontinental tracks. Accuracy and skills should count more. Bowlers who fit that bill should be encouraged.
A lot of Indian batsmen give credit to you for adjustment in their techniques. Do you think India still needs a head coach?
Ans: It’s just not me, but the entire support staff. These boys were willing to listen and make those little changes.
That only comes out of trust and respect. They know what’s in the dressing room, stays there. The three in support staff? Sanjay, Arun, Sridhar haven’t dropped from the heaven. They have been in the system for a long, long time. They have spent years on the field.
They watched these boys while they were being hatched as cricketers. It’s the comfort level between the players and support staff which bodes well. My take on <g data-gr-id="117">head</g> coach is <g data-gr-id="118">it’s</g> BCCI’s call. We already have three coaches plus me. A head coach just shouldn’t fill the post but add value. Representing India shouldn’t come easy, isn’t it.
And how do you see your own role within the team?
Ans: It’s a responsible, challenging job. Thankless too. In a sensitive country like ours, we are expected to win always.
And if you don?t, be ready to receive a few kicks up your backside. My various roles in the game for the past 35 years, as a cricketer, administrator and a media professional, hold me in good stead.