India are in the middle of a phenomenal run in the shortest format of the game, and Team Director Ravi Shastri on Wednesday said that he expects his side to maintain consistency and make winning a habit to clinch a big tournaments like the World T20.
Shastri said that India have got the right balance in the team and most of the big players are in form at the right time ahead of the ICC event.
“We have got into a good habit of winning games. You might get the odd hiccup on the way. But it’s important to maintain a level of consistency and treat every game as an important game. Every game is important from here on,” he told a news conference.
“To win a big tournament you need seven-eight individuals performing consistently. We are not a team of individuals. We are the Indian cricket team. Virat (Kohli) is in outstanding form, and so is Rohit (Sharma)… MS (Dhoni) has done well lower down the order. Yuvraj (Singh) has struck form. Shikhar (Dhawan) has had his moments,” Shastri said ahead of the World T20 warm-up game against the West Indies.
Champions of the inaugural 2007 edition, India take on the West Indies here tomorrow in the warm-up game and Shastri feels that the recent dream run has given a huge boost to the hosts’ title aspiration.
“Asia Cup was a very good preparation. The condition was not easy initially but it got better. The ball was swinging and seaming initially,” said the former all-rounder.
India have won 10 of their last 11 T20 International matches, including the series win in Australia and against Sri Lanka at home, before emerging champions in the just-concluded Asia Cup in Bangladesh.
Shastri said that India team has got a right blend of youth and experience.
“Any good side needs balance between youth and experience. If you look at history, the No. 1 Test team would always have experience and youth. The youngsters bring energy to the table and keep the seniors on their toes, they want to emulate the seniors. They are young and they work harder to get better,” he said.
“Players like Harbhajan and Rahane can get into any team in the world. It’s a good problem to have. A player of his ability (to sit out)… The good thing is the people who our bench strength. Rahane is one player who can play well in all the formats,” he said.
Not long ago, the bowlers faced severe criticism from several quarters for the team’s woes but Shastri felt the bowling unit has made a turnaround. He gave credit to bowling coach Bharat Arun for the new-found success of the likes of Jasprit Bumrah and Hardik Pandya, along with veteran Ashish Nehra.
“He (Arun) has played a massive role. I’m glad that Ashish, Jasprit and Pandya have grabbed the opportunity with both hands. You must give credit to Bharat. He’s worked with them for a long period of time, for results you got to be patient and he’s worked with the team. It’s good that they’re bowling well at the moment,” said Shastri.
“Earlier, the bowling look jittery because we had some injuries. In the South African series, we lost an inform Ashwin early… We have not had Shami since the World Cup. We had to look for some new players for a big bench strength.”
On Rohit Sharma’s success, Shastri said the top-order batsman has been able to put his mind over matter.
“It’s about creating the self-belief that he can take on any opposition in the world. When he’s in full flow, he looks great. He’s explosive, he’s got got time in his hands, and it’s all cricketing shots that he plays.”
Shastri also spoke about the in-form Virat Kohli and said the number three batsman has a hunger to perform on a big stage.
“Every time he bats you can all see it’s passion written all over. You can see his body language, he just loves the big stage. He wants to compete against the best in the world,” said the Team Director.
“As we saw against Pakistan (in Asia Cup), for him to bat in that fashion after Aamir’s spell, it was a world class innings. He’s a kind of player who’s hungry. He wants to score big once he gets going.”
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On seam all-rounder Hardik Pandya, Shastri said: “He is useful in all three department… He’s a very good fielder. He’s sharp when he bowls, he’s a tremendous striker of the ball. You need players like this in this format of the game. That always a big plus.”
He also slammed the critics for their non-stop criticism of captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, saying that he (Dhoni) has nothing left to prove and a champion like him should not be treated like that.
“I’ve said long back that he (Dhoni) is the best. What else he’s left to be achieved… Even you must be tired of watching him winning but still there will be two-three who will want him to retire. This thing is normal in our country. You go after your champions and tell them to go, it’s enough,” he said.