After Ravi Shastri had thrown his hat in the ring, there was little doubt in my mind that he would be sidelined considering that he enjoys a good rapport with the team, especially with captain Virat Kohli (“Shastri reappointed India head coach until 2021 Twenty20 World Cup”, Aug. 17, Gulf Today).
Though former New Zealand coach Mike Hesson posed a strong challenge, it was a fair decision by the Kapil Dev-led Cricket Advisory Committee to hand Shastri a two-year extension till the 2021 Twenty20 World Cup in India.
The 57-year-old’s Shastri’s has had a stellar run as the head coach, prior to this third extension with the Men in Blue. The team won an unprecedented Test series Down Under. It was the first time in history that Team India beat Australia. And to top it all, India is now the No 1 side in the ICC Test rankings and No 2 in the ODI rankings.
But Shastri’s tenure came under review after India’s ouster in the recently concluded ICC World Cup 2019 hosted by England and Wales. Yes, we topped the round-robin league at the World Cup but were undone by New Zealand in the semi-finals. And though Shastri has got a reprieve, the Damocles sword still hangs over his head — the No 4 spot.
Shastri was also in a bind earlier after India suffered back to back series defeats against South Africa and England. What saved the day was the Oz victory. Our T20 ranking is also poor. We stand fourth and with the World Twenty20 coming up in Australia next year, Shastri will have some work to do. Like the CAC, Indian cricket fans will be looking at Shastri to change the tide for the country in the shorter format of the game.