Ravi Shastri has claimed that the Indian team are not at all serious about T20Is and use it only as an opportunity to test the youngsters for the 2019 World Cup. The India head coach has also heaped praise on KL Rahul and called him the most improved player in World cricket in the last 18-20 months.
India was one of the very few opposers of the T20 format before it announced its arrival suddenly and the Asian nation also embraced it in a big way by starting the Indian Premier League. However, BCCI's step-motherly behaviour towards the shortest version of the game has always been there as India has played the least number of T20Is among Test nations (only above Bangladesh). After winning the Test and ODI series against Sri Lanka, Team India successfully registered a 3-0 win in the T20I series and Shastri reiterated India's chance stating the shorter format of the game does not have much importance and only serve as an opportunity for the players as well as the selectors who are keeping an eye on the upcoming World Cup.
“There's so much of cricket being played. T20 cricket for us, we don't care. You win or lose, it doesn't matter, but give youngsters the opportunity so you come to know who is in the fray for 2019. A big headache for us,” Shastri said as quoted by IANS.
The recently concluded series provided a comeback opportunity for Saurashtra pacer Jaydev Unadkat who not only utilized it to prove himself but also helped the team in winning the contest and in the last game of the series he received the Man of the Match award. In the first T20I, he picked up one wicket in his two overs for just seven runs before the spinners ran riot. In the second match, where all bowlers were taken for plenty, Unadkat gave away just 22 from his three overs for a wicket. Unadkat's best performance, however, came in the last match of the series - in Mumbai - where he bowled a match-winning spell of 4-0-15-2 and understandably, Shastri is happy by that.
“That's the hallmark of a good team where we respect oppositions, and when you respect oppositions you stay grounded. Very good variations (talking about Unadkat). He's been around for 5-6 years now but he's evolved beautifully. He understands his bowling which is so important,” Shastri added.
The former Indian player has also lauded the contribution of Rahul, who provided good starts to India in the first two T20I and scored 61, 89, and 4 runs in the Cuttack, Indore, and Mumbai T20Is, respectively.
“Rahul is a class player. He's got time. He plays all the shots. For me, he's the most improved player in world cricket in the last 18-20 months”.
Now, India will concentrate on the next challenge which is almost a two-month long tour of South Africa. Shastri asserted that the series win boosted much-needed confidence in the team ahead of the next month`s tour.
“That's the challenge (the South Africa tour). In your playing career, if you're not up for challenges, then it's no fun. Should be a good series. This is a side which can compete anywhere in the world,” Shastri stated.