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As Ravi Shastri leaves the Head Coach position of the Indian Cricket Team, one cannot look back at this era without Captain Virat Kohli. It is a bond that started years back when Shastri was appointed as the Team Director in 2014. This period was indeed one of the toughest for Indian Cricket, as the team across formats was finding its feet under a tiring Dhoni. It was exactly at this point, the then BCCI President N.Srinivasan appointed Ravi Shastri as the Team Director.
While Duncan Fletcher was still the Head Coach, Shastri – Kohli bond started to grow since then. Both being very passionate and expressive, Virat Kohli often mentioned on how Shastri has always been a motivator in the team atmosphere. Shastri was appointed for a short period post 2015 World Cup but later Sanjay Bangar replaced him as interim. However, it was expected that Shastri might take over completely but it was Anil Kumble who threw his hat in.
Once the Kumble – Kohli partnership turned ugly and the former made to quit, it was a matter of time before Kohli made his obvious choice of Ravi Shastri. The second coming of Shastri also raised expectations, mainly because of the captain-coach relationship. Ever since then, we have had fine series wins across formats except for an ICC trophy that still eludes us to this date.
In a country with such passionate fans, ICC trophy is the big deal. But one cannot ignore the wins across formats especially in SENA (South Africa, England, New Zealand and Australia) countries by this team, which was never achieved before by any Indian Cricket Team. The Wanderers Test win in 2018 in South Africa after being 2-0 down in the series along with the 5-1 ODI series win there in the same series for the first time ever, the T20I series wins in England and New Zealand, Test series win in Australia in 2018-19, to the epic of 2020-21 Australia Test series where we came back to win that historic series after a humiliating loss in the first test, are some of the major highlights.
The glory continued in England this year where we are leading 2-1 in the Test series (series not concluded due to Covid). The wins mentioned above are not mere stats, it shows the belief and the character that has grown in the team over the years. As a result, we now see more players stepping up even when the superstars of the team fail. When we look at the heroes of big wins in recent years, it’s not only the Kohli’s, Rohit’s, Pujara’s, Ashwin’s and the Bumrah’s, it has been Siraj, Sundar, Gill, Vihari, Thakur, Chahal, Kuldeep, Deepak Chahar, etc winning us matches across formats.
It is interesting that we are reading Jasprit Bumrah’s name among other superstars as he is one too, but remember he too established himself in the last few years. In a year or so, Mohammed Siraj may join the league of Bumrah who knows. Such is the pace at which players are growing in the Indian Cricket Team. We can argue about team selection, techniques, tactical mistakes but these can always be worked up on in a country that produces buckets of great talents every year.
What Shastri and Kohli have brought in is the change in attitude of players coming in, their belief that they can do it at the highest level anywhere in the world and their mental toughness to stand up to situations. To think that these are the qualities that will drive Indian Cricket forward only gives me more confidence and pride as a fan. This team has taken giant leaps under this duo and it can only go upwards from here. The World Cup is not too far from our reach but for the moment, Congratulations Ravi Shastri on your wonderful tenure as Head Coach, see you at the commentator’s box very soon.
These pieces are being published as they have been received – they have not been edited/fact-checked by ThePrint.