Former India cricketer Ravi Shastri, who is currently the national team director, said it would be his endeavour to get left-handed batsman Suresh Raina back in the Test side.
Raina once again gave ample display of his talent by smashing a strokeful century in Chennai Super Kings’ triumph in the final of the Champions League Twenty20 last Saturday.
“The more I see him play, he is brilliant to watch. It will be my endeavour really to do something that will get him back into the Indian Test match team. He is a class act. When is going he is a treat to watch,” Shastri said at a media interaction at the Press Club.
He added, “Even at times when I see him bat at the nets, when the ball hits the bat, just that sound or sense of timing you know it is something different. Let’s hope, fingers crossed.”
The Uttar Pradesh player last played a Test match in 2012 in a home series against New Zealand. He has featured in 17 Tests in comparison to the 196 ODIs and 44 international T20 games he has played.
Asked about players like Kuldeep Yadav coming into the side without much domestic experience, Shastri said, “When there is talent, when you have something different like with Kuldeep, something special and if the selectors believe that yes, this could be the guy, if nurtured properly, given the right guidance one year or two years down the line will be a match winner for me not just in India but in overseas conditions as well. I am prepared to take that gamble.”
He also said that injured Mumbai player Rohit Sharma would bounce back and the team management will ensure that his talent doesn’t go waste.
“He is a class act. It is unfortunate that he got injured and his inning was most crucial in India winning that one-day series because you were in trouble and he played beautifully. He showed great maturity in that series. I am sure he will bounce bank. He has got too much talent and we will make sure that it will not be wasted,” he said.
The former India captain backed the under-fire Indian coach Duncan Fletcher and said he has a lot of knowledge.
“Absolutely, he is brilliant. He is a seasoned campaigner. He has over 100 Test matches as a coach for various teams. The good thing is Fletch and me go a long way back. We know each other. I captained the U-25 team against Zimbabwe in 1984 when he was the captain of Zimbabwe. He has got a fabulous track record. It is how we use the knowledge that he has in the best possible way and communicate with the players,” he said.
Asked if Virender Sehwag would make a comeback to the side, Shastri said, “I am in no position to answer that. All I can say if a person performs on a regular basis, he will catch the eye of the selector. It doesn’t have to be Viru, there are many players. The best way to bang on the door of the selector is by getting runs game after game or taking wickets game after game.”
The former Mumbai captain said players in their prime form would be picked for the 2015 World Cup.
“Prime importance I believe will always be given to current form. I think form is very important. As opposed to the fitness of the players, you will have to really see by the end of the Test series, who is still fit, who is still fresh enough mentally and that is our role. The main role of the
selectors, the coaching staff to see how they juggle it around so that come February, you have a bunch of boys who are hungry, keen and ready to go,” he said.
Shastri was critical of the Indian team’s performance in the Test series in England and said they will learn from the experience.
“Yes constructive criticism is warranted when you play spineless cricket like the way you did in the last three Test matches in England. There is no way you can hide. You have got to put your hand up and say we stuffed it up. We played bad cricket. You have got to admit it but it’s a great game. This game teaches you to accept failure and get up there, work your backside off and come out and perform again,” Shastri said.
“You saw it in the one-day series. It is not something that is not there. I am sure the boys wouldn’t have liked what they saw. Caving in, seven eight wickets, they know they are better than that. Yes you might say inexperience, but that is no excuse for that.
“On one hand you show us fantastic cricket and then three weeks in a row you show us something that even they don’t expect. I am sure they will bounce back. You have to put yourself in that position.
“You know now the next time you are in that position, you can’t do worse than that. You have to learn from that experience and see how better you can do,” he added.