‘Will hit back at agenda driven criticism’

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 19 Jan 2019 14:02:34




RAVI Shastri is not known to pull back punches and the India head coach has made it clear that he wouldn’t change his ways if he feels that criticism directed at the national team is “agenda-driven”.

Speaking to ‘The Daily Telegraph’, Shastri also complimented Virat Kohli, describing the skipper as someone who comes “closest to Vivian Richards” in the manner he bats.

On the criticism, there was no direct reference to the critics he considers agenda-driven.  “You expect it. I am one of those that if it is constructive, then fine. If I find it is agenda-driven, I don’t care who the individual is, then I will throw a punch back straightaway. I mean it. I don’t care if he is a legend or a normal person. If I feel I have to punch back I will,” Shastri told former England captain Michael Vaughan, who was interviewing him for the newspaper.

The most recent criticism against the team came from the legendary Sunil Gavaskar, who had questioned the team combination and training methods after India’s defeat in the Perth Test, which according to Shastri, was akin to “firing blanks” sitting million miles away.

India’s greatest opener then responded by saying that it were these blanks that pushed the team into doing well at Melbourne. When asked to compare Kohli and Sachin Tendulkar, Shastri said the Mumbai maestro was “more composed” and in a zone while Kohli is more “in your face”.

“Yesterday someone asked me if there are any similarities between Sachin [Tendulkar] and Virat. I said there were plenty. Let’s start with work ethic,” he said.

“It is doing the hard yards, looking ugly in the nets and sacrificing important things for your cricket. It is staying in the zone. No excuses. No pointing fingers at others. If you make a mistake, then own up. They do that,” Shastri added. He then cited the difference.

“Virat can be in your face. He is the closest a player has come to Vivian Richards in the way he bats. That ‘in your face’ approach with fast bowlers and any opponent. He is also prepared to do hard work and be ugly. That is part of his batting he learned in England,” said the Indian coach.

Have seen Sachin get angry but not Dhoni: Shastri



RAVI Shastri has seen Sachin Tendulkar get “angry at times” but not Mahendra Singh Dhoni, “a once in 40 years player” who will be very difficult to replace once he bids adieu to the game, according to India’s head coach.

The 37-year-old Dhoni, who was panned by critics for 51 off 96 balls in the first ODI against Australia, showed glimpses of his golden days by anchoring India to a series win with scores of unbeaten knocks of 55 and 87 in the next two.

“He is a legend. He will go down as one of our great cricketers. I have never seen an individual so sound. I have seen Sachin at times get angry. Not this man,” Shastri told the ‘Daily Telegraph’.  Shastri made it clear that a player of Dhoni’s calibre can’t be replaced.

“You can’t. Such players only come once in 30 or 40 years. That is what I tell Indians. Enjoy while it lasts. When he goes you will see a void that will be very hard to fill,” he said.

The coach is hopeful that Rishabh Pant would live up to the hype surrounding him but insisted that Dhoni is something else.

When former England captain Michael Vaughan asked if Pant could be Dhoni in the next 20 years, Shastri replied: “I would love to. He has the talent. His hero is MS. Every day he is on the the phone to MS. I think during the Test series he must have spoken more to MS than anyone else.”

It’s not just Dhoni’s role as a batsman that defines him but the master strategist in him that takes a lot of load off skipper Kohli’s shoulders.