In­dia coach un­der fire

The Herald (Zimbabwe) - - Sport -

NEW DELHI. — In­dia cricket coach Ravi Shas­tri has come un­der fire for his side’s hu­mil­i­at­ing 4-1 Test series loss to Eng­land - a sec­ond con­sec­u­tive away de­feat for the world’s top-ranked side.

The thrash­ing in Eng­land, fol­low­ing the loss in South Africa ear­lier this year, piles pres­sure on Shas­tri ahead of a tour to Aus­tralia in Novem­ber and next year’s World Cup - as well as a mas­sive clash with arch-ri­vals Pak­istan next week.

Crit­ics and for­mer cap­tains have rounded on the coach, par­tic­u­larly for his mid-series claim that his team is the best to come out of In­dia in 15 years.

“Self-be­lief is a won­der­ful qual­ity; but be­ing caught in the bub­ble of your own pub­lic­ity is self-de­feat­ing,” said Sam­bit Bal, chief editor of cricket web­site Cricinfo, on Twit­ter.

“In­dia had their mo­ments but the score­cards say 4-1 and In­dia weren’t as good as they should have been,” said noted com­men­ta­tor Har­sha Bhogle. “This is two over­seas dis­ap­point­ments in a row now.”

Prior to the fi­nal Test at the Oval — which In­dia lost by 118 runs — Shas­tri had raised eye­brows with lav­ish praise for his side.

“If you look at the last three years, we have won nine matches over­seas and three series. I can’t see any other In­dian team in the last 15-20 years that has had the same run in such a short time,” he said.

In­dia have won two re­cent series in Sri Lanka and one in the West Indies. But his com­ments ran­kled for­mer star play­ers. Sourav Gan­guly, who was part of the com­mit­tee that appointed Shas­tri last year, dis­missed the coach’s claims as “im­ma­ture”, telling In­dian tele­vi­sion Shas­tri must im­prove the team. Su­nil Gavaskar pointed out that In­dian teams of the 1980s had won series in Eng­land and the West Indies - as well as a series vic­tory in Eng­land as re­cently as 2007.

“The best trav­el­ling teams are made by per­for­mances on the ground and not by sit­ting in the dress­ing room and talk­ing about it,” added for­mer Test opener Viren­der Se­hwag.

Cap­tain Vi­rat Kohli leapt to his coach’s de­fence fol­low­ing the fi­nal Test on Tues­day.

Asked about Shas­tri’s pre-match com­ments, Kohli said: “We have to be­lieve we are the best side, why not?”

In a tetchy ex­change, Kohli turned the ques­tion on a jour­nal­ist, who re­sponded “I am not sure”. Kohli hit back: “You’re not sure. That is your opin­ion. Thank you.”

Shas­tri now has to im­me­di­ately lift the side for the six-na­tion Asia Cup start­ing in the United Arab Emi­rates on Satur­day - with­out the bril­liant Kohli, who is be­ing rested.

The whole coun­try will be watch­ing as they take on arch-ri­vals Pak­istan on Septem­ber 19, with Ro­hit Sharma to lead the side through­out the 50-over con­test.

In­dia then have two Tests at home to West Indies be­fore four Tests in Aus­tralia. — AFP.

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