Rohit cut out to open, says Shastri

Settled unit: Ravi Shastri says Team India has progressed well with the bowlers capable of picking up 20 wickets in a match.   | Photo Credit: K_R_DEEPAK

Ravi Shastri enjoyed the panoramic view through the hotel window as the sun bounced off the Bay of Bengal as he pondered the questions put to him.

The India coach’s answers — in an exclusive conversation with The Hindu — were sharp, precise and honest.

The big positive for you from the Test here?

A fast bowler taking five wickets in the fourth innings in India.

Your impressions on Shami.

To bounce back from personal issues and bowl the way he did was remarkable. He is relentless, very skilful and at you all the time. I would have hated to face him. He is at you all the time, he is very skilful and in conditions like yesterday few bowlers in the world are better than him.

How concerned are you about Bumrah’s stress fracture in the back?

Very concerned. Because he is precious, special, different, and a match-winner. They are taking opinions on whether he needs surgery. We have to be careful about his workload because he plays all three formats.

Hardik Pandya too underwent a surgery for a back injury recently.

His surgery was successful. We will know in two weeks’ time. Ideally we want him in every format.

Rohit Sharma was great in his first Test as opener.

I would hate to see a player of his quality sitting in the reserves.

In the West Indies I was very clear that he should open and had a chat with Kohli about it. This was his opportunity.

Opening is about the mindset. You got to respect the new ball. A lot of guys in India should have opened in the last 20 years for the sake of team balance, but they didn’t have the stomach for it. Who would have thought Virender Sehwag would  average nearly 50 in Tests. But he conquered those first 20 minutes against the new ball. I don’t think any other opener actually enjoyed opening like he did.

Similarities between Rohit and Sehwag?

Both destroyers, both with the ability to score very big given their tempo with which they play.

How impressed were you with R. Ashwin’s bowling in his comeback Test?

He’s world class. A top-class off-spinner. But the demands of the game are such that you cannot afford to rest on your laurels. It’s the same with everyone in the team.

Ravindra Jadeja has been making strides, with the bat and the ball.

Excellent team-man. Has realised his potential, which is never easy. He has arrived after that astonishing innings in the World Cup semifinal. With the ball, he’s accurate. If it starts spinning, he is lethal. And a brilliant fielder.

India now has a varied attack that can sting.

We have the variety to take 20 wickets. Runs are important. But 20 wickets are most important.

Does the team have an open mind about M.S. Dhoni returning to the shorter formats?

He will go down as one of our greatest players, very, very high up the list.

Whether he wants to come back, that’s for him to decide. I have not met him after the World Cup. He has to first start playing and let’s see how things go. I don’t think he has started playing after the World Cup. If he is keen, he will definitely let the selectors know.

Winning the Test series in New Zealand, never easy, will be India’s next major challenge.

As the No. 1 side we like to go and play against tough teams in their backyard. We are confident against New Zealand. Didn’t we beat Australia down under after 71 years?. West Indies had beaten a strong England team at home in Tests and we absolutely smashed them. We like to go and play against tough teams in their backyard. We are confident against New Zealand. We are the No. 1 team in the world.

India has to find a stable No. 4 in the shorter formats with the World Twenty20 next year?

It is very easy for us to drop Kohli to No. 4. Then you will have the best No. 4 in the world. But it takes time.

Shreyas Iyer has been excellent in recent months. He can be a really good No. 4.

What convinced the team-management to pick Wriddhiman Saha in the Test eleven?

Saha was injured and that was the reason Pant came into the Test side. Saha is the best ‘keeper' in the world, and at home, where the bounce can be variable, his ‘keeping is invaluable. Pant has scored Test hundreds in England and Australia, is talented, but he is still very young and has the time to improve his 'keeping'.

What is the philosophy of this Indian team?

This Indian team is about the Team and not individuals. Some tough calls have to be made. Imagine, Kuldeep Yadav not playing a Test since his five-wicket innings haul in Sydney. It is never nice or easy to tell people who have performed that you are not picked. But this is about the Team.

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Printable version | Jul 25, 2021 1:08:31 PM |

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