In a candid interview with Michael Atherton, former India coach Ravi Shastri peeled back the layers of his captaincy strategy, shedding light on why his gaze was fixed on Virat Kohli even during the era of MS Dhoni’s captaincy.
Shastri, who formed a formidable partnership with Kohli during his coaching tenure, described the now-former Indian captain as an “uncut diamond.” Despite the brilliance of individual performances, Shastri aimed for team brilliance and a focus on making Test cricket paramount.
While Dhoni led the team, Shastri strategically observed Kohli, expressing his foresight during an early conversation with the budding captain. “It’ll take time, but watch, observe, be ready (for the captaincy),” Shastri recalled telling Kohli. The former coach highlighted Kohli’s passion, preparation to endure the hard yards, and readiness to play tough cricket as key elements that aligned with his coaching philosophy.
Sharing the same vision with the former skipper, Shastri emphasized the importance of a ‘no complaints,’ ‘no excuses’ attitude, particularly when facing formidable opponents like Australia and Pakistan. The strategic alignment bore fruit as India clinched back-to-back Test series victories in Australia and secured a memorable draw in a five-Test series in England.
In the course of the interview, Shastri also showered praise on fast-bowling sensation Jasprit Bumrah, breaking the stereotype that labeled him as a mere “white-ball specialist.”
Recalling his initial conversation with Bumrah in Kolkata, Shastri revealed, “I asked him if he would be interested in Test cricket. He said that would be the biggest day of his life.” Dispelling the white-ball cricketer tag, Shastri expressed his keenness to assess Bumrah’s hunger for Test cricket. The former coach set the stage for Bumrah’s Test debut in South Africa, a decision that the pacer met with enthusiasm and commitment.
“He was desperate to play Test cricket with Virat Kohli. They know, at the end of the day, no one remembers white ball averages. They will always remember your numbers in Test cricket,” Shastri declared, emphasizing the enduring legacy of Test cricket performances.
As Shastri’s revelations provide a glimpse into the intricate tapestry of his coaching strategy, cricket enthusiasts await more behind-the-scenes insights from the man behind India’s Test cricket resurgence.