Ravi Shastri's press conference has left everyone confused. "Was Shastri watching cricket with blindfolds on last 15 years?" is the question popping in everyone's mind who followed the presser ahead of the fifth Test between India and England.
The Indian head coach has said the current Indian team is the best touring team in last 15-20 years. People are busy finding out where he last visited before coming in to face the media.
“I can’t see any other Indian team in the last 15-20 years that have had the same run in such a short time, and you have had some great players playing in those series. So the promise is there, and it’s just about getting tougher mentally. You have got to hurt when you lose matches because that’s when you look within and come out with the right kind of answers to combat such situations and get past the finishing line. One day you will if you believe," Shastri said who had replaced Anil Kumble as India's coach in 2017.
Like many others, former Indian captain Sunil Gavaskar was also perplexed by the statement. He went on to question Shastri and said that most of the victories in the recent years have come in Sri Lanka and not in England or South Africa.
He added that the team toured in the 1980s had won matches in countries like England and West Indies. The Windies were tough to beat at that time and were among the most vicious teams with a superior bowling attack.
“In Sri Lanka, not too many Indian captains and teams have won. West Indies, England, and South Africa, previous teams have won matches in the last 15-20 years. I think this was his [Ravi Shastri] view and perhaps only he can speak about it. What I can say is teams in the 1980s have won in England and West Indies,” Gavaskar said while speaking with India Today on Thursday.
Gavaskar counted Rahul Dravid's achievements as a captain and said he hasn't got much credit despite giving India its first victory over South Africa, a series win over West Indies in 2005 and winning Test matches on English soil in 2007.
He further added that the win matters the most in England, South Africa, and Australia, where the Indian team struggles. “I will not discount wins in Sri Lanka because they are tough to beat at home but when we talk of wins, it is in England, South Africa, and Australia and India have won in England before but have never won a series in South Africa and Australia.”
India had lost the Test series in South Africa by 2-1. Gavaskar thinks they didn't play as per their potential and management should have worked better than what they did. “I think that’s something [performance failure] that needs to be looked at by the end of the series. During the series, I understand the management saying that the team is still very good, which is to keep the morale up. There is still one Test to go. A real assessment has to be made on September 12, when the series ends,” he added.
What caused the problem for Indian top order batsman? Gavaskar believes playing too much limited overs cricket has affected them. They have to face the new ball and hence should always stay correct with the approach. “Too much of one-day cricket means people can play through the line but with the kind of movement red ball generates, it is not possible. To play spin bowling, you need to use your feet and the lack of footwork has not helped this team.”
India will play their last Test against England this summer on September 7 and Gavaskar backs Prithvi Shaw to be a part of playing XI at The Oval. “I think it’s a wonderful opportunity to blood Prithvi Shaw. I would look at him and Karun Nair if you want to go with an extra batsman. If you want to keep the same balance, then Ravindra Jadeja might get a look because I don’t know if Ravichandran Ashwin is fit to bowl,” Gavaskar said.