Ravi Shastri has stated that his mindset matches Virat Kohli's and the duo are only interested in winning cricket games and don’t go into the field to "do time-pass". Shastri has also backed the opening duo of Murali Vijay and Shikhar Dhawan to do well in the testing conditions of South Africa.
It is no secret that Shastri and Kohli share a great relationship with each other and it was the latter who reportedly advocated Shastri’s selection for India’s head coach role after Anil Kumble had stepped down. While Kohli plays his game hard but fair, Shastri is known to be aggressive in his approach towards the game. The duo’s similar personalities made sure that India slowly and steadily shed the defensive team tag and in Kohli’s first Test as captain in Adelaide in 2015 - with Shastri as team director – India provided a sneak-peak of what was about to come in the years to come.
Speaking about his bonding with the Indian skipper, Shastri told News 18, “Equation is great. We are similar personalities like you mentioned. There is an element of trust in our relationship. We are both strong-minded and both play to win at all costs. We play to win. We don’t go there to do time-pass. This is not a team that is out there to fill up the numbers. We want to compete. We want to take the game forward. He is pretty similar in his mindset when it comes to that and he is in your face kind of character. With Virat Kohli what you see is what you get.”
“At that end of the day, the captain is the boss. He might ask me for my suggestions. It doesn’t mean he has to agree with my suggestion. Because what I am looking for is for him to have his own mind as well and take the decision. We are there in the support staff to give suggestion which might help so there is a dialogue. I might believe in a certain combination.”
With South Africa still posing one of the most difficult challenges in world cricket, the openers’ role is going to be as important as it has ever been. However, fortunately for India, ‘plenty of problems’ has been replaced by a ‘problem of plenty’ as all three – Dhawan, Vijay, and KL Rahul - hold a chance to get a place in the playing XI. But, Shastri, made it clear that it would be Dhawan and Vijay who would start in South Africa ahead of the Karnataka star.
“You look at experience, you look at variety so that’s what Shikhar brings in, a left hand, a right-hand combination so he is a must. He has got lots of runs. Vijay the most experienced and a very good record overseas and he brings solidity. Young Rahul is immensely talented and he will get his opportunity at some stage. He might have to wait for a while but he will get his opportunity think he was the most improved player in the last 18 months. It’s just unfortunate that he didn’t convert those 60s into 150s but he will learn,” Shastri said.
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