With coach like Shastri, team gets freedom: Rohit

 Ravi Shastri
“More importantly, we’ve the bench strength now. We have got another two-three in the wings” – Shastri © AFP
While IPL 11 has already seen plenty of exciting moments, there’s been something missing this season: a booming voice that screams: ‘And that went like a tracer bullet!’

For the first time since the IPL began a decade ago, Ravi Shastri has been missing from the commentary box, due to ‘conflict-of-interest’ issues that arise due to his present role as the Team India coach. It’s clear, though, that the former India all-rounder is following the league as keenly as ever.

On Monday, at an event, when quizzed on whether India’s current pace attack, comprising the likes of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammad Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav was the best-ever, Shastri replied: “I would say so without a shadow of doubt. More importantly, we’ve the bench strength now. We have got another two-three in the wings.

“The more I see the IPL, you can see there are already two-three other guys there who are knocking on the doors which augurs well for Indian cricket. When there is competition, it makes even your main bowlers work even that harder to stay fit and if you don’t, there will be somebody else.”

The emergence of young Indian pace bowlers in the IPL – Chennai Super Kings’ Deepak Chahar being a prime example this season – has left former Australia skipper Michael Clarke impressed too. “Look at the quicks that you see around the IPL. The strength there is so strong, and I believe that travelling around the world you do unbelievable amount of work in India as a fast bowler but come England, Australia… in those conditions, India are such a threat to being the best team in the world. And not for one year, but for the next 5-10 years because their bench strength is so strong,” praised Clarke.

Seated next to Shastri and Clarke at the Mumbai launch of Boria Majumdar’s book ‘Eleven Gods and a Billion Indians’, was Rohit Sharma, who looked jaded after leading the Mumbai Indians to another defeat on Sunday night at the hands of the Rajasthan Royals in Jaipur. Rohit agreed that with the kind of One-Day cricket they were playing at the moment, India seem to be the favourites for 2019 World Cup. The India batting star gave credit to Shastri for boosting the team since his return into the position last year. “A cricket team needs freedom and with a coach like him (Ravi), you get that freedom,” said Rohit.

The brand of one-day cricket that India’s playing at the moment has left a huge impression on Clarke. “They’re a brilliant team, particularly in the ODI format, and there’s no doubt about it. Just sitting here and listening to their attitude (referring to Rohit Sharma), they’re halfway there. Sport is all about attitude and having confidence in your own ability and your team’s ability. You struggle when there is self-doubt. Big tournaments are won on your self-confidence and when you play with freedom,” praised Clarke.

In the absence of Steve Smith and David Warner, who’re both serving a ban after being involved in ball-tampering in the Cape Town Test, many are tipping India to win a Test series in Australia for the first time. Clarke felt that it would be unfair to India if the duo’s no-show takes away the sheen off their win. “I think if India and Australia have their players fully fit, it will end up being an unbelievable series. There’s no doubt that losing Smith, Warner and Bancroft is going to hurt Australia. But I would hate to see that if India do have success in Australia for it to be taken away due to the absence of the three players. I don’t think that is fair to the Indian team. India are a great team and they have had success individually in terms of players who are going to be on that tour. They know the conditions there really well,” felt Clarke.

‘Pup’ even backed India to beat England in England this summer. “I certainly think that they are in for a great chance to win in England as well. If India can beat England in England, they go to Australia with so much confidence, that it is going to be really hard to beat them at home. Australia’s under pressure at the moment with everything that has happened and to try and work out what their team is going to be. They need to find a way and start to rebuild really quickly because it is a massive series considering we have never lost to India (Test series) in Australia,” he said.