India players want Ravi Shastri back at the helmhttps://indianexpress.com/article/sports/cricket/india-cricket-team-players-want-ravi-shastri-back-at-the-helm/

India players want Ravi Shastri back at the helm

Team India cricketers have conveyed it to the BCCI that they want the team director, Ravi Shastri, whose contract expired last week, to continue.

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Under Ravi Shastri, India reached the semifinals of the World Cup and World T20, and became the second-ranked Test team. (Source: Express photo by Kamleshwar Singh)

Some of the senior Indian players have requested the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) that Ravi Shastri continue to be in charge of the team. Shastri’s contract as Team Director was till the end of the World T20, but it could come up for renewal now that the players have thrown their support behind him. It’s learnt that the players have liked the “positivity” and “aggression” that Shastri brings to the team.

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“We consulted the players recently on who they want to be the head of the team and many senior players were all praise for the work done by Shastri, and have said that they would be really happy if he continues in his role. A decision would be made soon,” a top source in BCCI told The Indian Express. “There won’t be a Team Director and a full-time coach. It will be only one post, and even Ravi’s contract can come up for renewal.”

On April 1, Anurag Thakur, BCCI secretary, had said that Shastri’s contract can come up for renewal if the Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC) comprising Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman decide to renew faith in him.

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Shastri had taken over as the team’s Director of Cricket in 2014 after India’s lost 1-3 in Tests to England. Under him, the Indian team won the ODI series in England, lost Test series in Australia 0-2 but their fight under the new captain Virat Kohli won them rave reviews. The team surprised many when they reached the semi-finals of the ODI World Cup in 2015. India also won their first Test series in Sri Lanka 2-1 after 22 years, before dethroning South Africa 3-0 in a Test series at home. Though they lost 1-4 in the ODIs in Australia in 2016, they rallied back with a historic clean sweep in the T20s. They returned home to overcome Sri Lankans 2-1 in a T20 series. It set them up for a triumph in Asia Cup. Then came the semi-final run in the World T20 when Shastri’s contract ended.

Wholesome support

Shastri has won the support of players from across the spectrum. In January, Kohli, who became the Test captain under Shastri on the tour of Australia, has spoken about the positive influence of Shastri on his game. “He told me to stand outside the crease and widen my stance after the England tour, and it worked wonders for me in Australia. Then, going back to a narrower stance, again he brought it up, with Sanjay Bangar, the batting coach, to help me move better. We felt areas of my game are being blocked, and I can really open up. I was not able to play square of the wicket. These things are important to get.

“As far as captaincy is concerned, he would like to let people learn themselves. But if need be, he will come and tell you. So when he sees something that a batsman is being bogged down in a particular area, he will tell you a solution about what can be done,” Kohli had said.

R Ashwin has also spoken about how Shastri has helped him grow as a spinner. “I am someone who likes talking cricket and discussing cricket. Especially with him (Shastri) around, he is someone who enjoys the same pattern. When we talk and discuss a lot, new opportunities open up to try a few things. The improvement has already started.”

Murali Vijay too has talked up Shastri in the past. “Ravi bhai has his own style of putting it across. (He lifts the mood) 100 percent. Just the energy you get onto the table. At the right time, I think, he has come,” the opener said.