Captain Virat Kohli on Monday said he is in favour of Ravi Shastri continuing as the head coach of the Indian cricket team despite the criticism it faced following the semi-final ouster from the World Cup.
The current support staff comprising incumbent head coach Ravi Shastri, bowling coach Bharat Arun, batting coach Sanjay Bangar and fielding coach R Sridhar were given a 45-day extension following the World Cup, covering the West Indies tour from August 3 to September 3.
“Well, the CAC (Cricket Advisory Committee headed by Kapil Dev) has not contacted me on this. But all of us share a great camaraderie with Ravi bhai and would definitely be very happy (to have him around),” Kohli told reporters when asked for his opinion on the appointment of chief coach.
“But as I had said, it’s on the CAC to decide (how to go about it).”
They may have failed to win the T20 World Cup in 2016 and the ODI World Cup in 2015 and 2019, but the Shastri-Kohli duo helped India climb the top of the Test rankings with a historic series triumph in Australia.
Shastri was the team director till June 2016 until India lost in the World T20 semi-finals before being reappointed as head coach in 2017 after Anil Kumble was removed following his differences with Kohli.
The interviews of applicants for India’s head coach are likely to take place on August 13 and/or August 14. The deadline for filing the applications for the head coach and support staff is July 30.
The Committee of Administrators (COA) running Indian cricket has tasked the Kapil Dev-led ad-hoc committee to pick the next national coach.
The ad-hoc body comprising former India captain Kapil, Anshuman Gaekwad and former women’s captain Shantha Rangaswamy had earlier appointed W V Raman as the womens team coach in December.
Back then, the COA was a two-member panel comprising chairman Vinod Rai and former India women’s captain Diana Edulji, who had called the women’s coach selection process unconstitutional.
She had asserted that only the Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC) was empowered to do so. But with serious doubts over the future of CAC comprising Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman the CoA thought it was prudent to hand the responsibility to the ad-hoc panel.
Exciting opportunity for new guys in limited-overs format
Kohli said it will be a “very exciting opportunity” for the likes of Chahar brothers and Navdeep Saini to make a mark in the limited overs format during the upcoming tour of the West Indies.
A number of players who are not a regular with the Indian team in either T20Is or ODIs made the limited overs squads as the selection committee made its intention clear to move forward from India’s semi-final ouster from the ICC World Cup and build for the future.
“The T20s as you have seen, the squads, when I met the selectors, the basic message from them was to try out a few players that they had in mind. I think it is a very exciting opportunity for all the guys who are stepping in for the first time,” Kohli said.
Deepak and Rahul Chahar, Saini, Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey and Washington Sundar are a mixture of new and old faces to have been included in the squad for the limited-overs format.
“The ODI side is more or less balanced and we have been really doing well, the Test side, needless to say the kind of performances we have put in, so I am particularly excited about the three T20s, because as I said new lot of players coming in,” Kohli said.
“Some players who have done really well in the format and shown great composure under pressure in tournaments like IPL, domestically as well. So it’s a great marker for all those guys and us as a team as well to have them in the squad,” the captain added.
India will play three T20s and as many ODIs, and two Test matches during their West Indies tour, commencing on August 3.
“West Indies obviously is a great place to go and play cricket. It is a relaxed place, we all have enjoyed playing cricket there,” Kohli said.
No-one communicated to me that I needed rest for this tour
Kohli said that there was no communication either from the former physio and trainer of the Indian team with regards to skipping the shorter formats during the upcoming West Indies tour.
Kohli was tipped to be rested alongside Jasprit Bumrah but the captain said that no one told him that his workload has exceeded the prescribed limit.
“Our rest period is put on record. It’s all on the e-mail given to the Board. So I don’t know what report they have created. In my mind, until the trainer or the physio tells me to rest because my progress in such and such with data collected from all games. I don’t know what communication was sent out to the selectors because nothing was communicated to me in terms of rest,” Kohli told.
It will be a new start after the disappointment of the World Cup but Kohli admitted that the team is yet to sort out the middle-order conundrum and joked that they might need a “crystal maze”.
“I don’t know whether it will have to be explained through a crystal maze,” he said with a laugh.
On a serious note, he felt that the Indian middle-order had been a target of “unfair criticism” being judged on the basis of one or two performances.
“It’s very subjective and situation-based. Sometimes you say you have the best top order in the world, which you can agree with; it leads to middle order getting just one or two opportunities, then we judge it based on it. I don’t know how to strike balance in it,” the skipper said, sounding a bit helpless.
India’s top three performed more often than not during the World Cup but the day when the middle-order faced stern test, they capitulated.
“If I am a middle-order player and I hardly get an opportunity to bat, then when I am expected to deliver in crunch, I don’t think it’s fair to be judged. If the top-order fails consistently, then you’ll say they need to be given time since they have been performing.
“When it happens with the middle-order, I don’t think it’s right to be so critical of them. We obviously want to find people who can be consistent, who can do the job regularly for us and we have backed the players that we thought are good enough to do the job. And they have,” Kohli said.