Mumbai: India team director Ravi Shastri, made a big statement in his first interview after being placed at the helm till the 2016 World Twenty20, says he was not disappointed by Ishant Sharma's behaviour in the third Test against Sri Lanka. The fast bowler got a one-match ban for arguing with Lankan players on the field.
Sharing his views to bcci.tv, Ravi Shastri said: "I know he (Ishant) has copped a lot of flak over the aggression and he will learn where to draw a line. But let me assure you, he has the backing of the entire team. I want him to be aggressive and I will be the first one to push him in that direction. But I will also mark the line. We will miss him for the first Test. He is our most experienced fast bowler."
India had lost the first Test against Sri Lanka but made a surprising comeback to register a 2-1 series victory, which was also the very first for them in the emerald island in 22 years. The 53-year-old Ravi Shastri said he wants Virat Kohli and team to play in the same manner against South Africa, against whom India will play a four-Test series, in addition to playing five ODIs and three T20Is. The long tour for the Proteas starts with a T20I at Dharamsala on October 2.
"South Africa are the No. 1 team in the world," Ravi Shastri said. "We have to play consistent cricket for long periods of time to put them under pressure. That will be the endeavour. Our style of play will not change. If you reflect on our performances in Australia and Sri Lanka, you will see that consistency was the difference between defeat and victory. Sustained brilliance will be the key against South Africa.
"And that - not letting the opposition off the hook after having them under pressure - demands a lot of patience. We weren't patient enough both in Australia and during the first Test in Sri Lanka. Once the patience and discipline came, in the next two Tests, we saw the results."
Shastri appreciated players like Cheteshwar Pujara, who played the perfect team-man during the recent series in Sri Lanka. "Cheteshwar [Pujara] had to sit out a long time and then was asked to open the innings. Not for a moment did he complain or give any excuses, and the reward was there for everyone to see. Ajinkya Rahane was asked to go at 3 when we needed more stability after Shikhar's injury. Rohit [Sharma] was asked to drop back. They both did it in the interest of the team and they scored runs. It is a case of doing things willingly for the team. These guys don't think, 'What if'? They say, 'Why not?'
"When you have everyone fit and ready, the guys will be back in their normal positions. All the chop and change happened because we were encountered with so many injuries right through the series. What do you do then? You have to be flexible and people have to be prepared to do that," Shastri said.
Photo courtesy: www.sports.ndtv.com
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