Recent announcement by the three members of Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC) headed by Kapil Dev and consisting of Gaekwad and Shantha Rangaswamy, regarding Ravi Shashtri continuing as team India’s coach for another two year has surely raised eyebrows among sports analysts and cricket fans around India. This announcement comes in the wake of reports of internal rift between Indian Captain Virat Kohli and star opener Rohit Sharma over several issues and alleged Virat Kohli’s lopsided support for Ravi Shashtri.
The rift and the issues with the team management came to light after India’s defeat out of the World Cup earlier this year, while the team steered through the tournament heavily dependent on the top order and the bowling attack the deficiencies in the middle order were clearly evident and the management clearly fell short of streamlining that critical issue which ultimately cost India in the semi-final. Despite several players performing at their optimum levels, cohesive team performance was also missing. Poor selection, streamlining the middle order and improper execution at critical no 4 position have been the major points of discussions.
It is important to note that India’s middle order has been an issue for quite a while now. The middle order is the spine of the team and in India’s case a solid middle order has been missing for quite sometime. This raises questions on the role of the team management including the head coach. India has been too much dependent on the Openers and No. 3 and any top order collapse results into a disaster for the batting performance.
While bowling coach Bharat Arun and fielding coach R Sridhar had done well in their respective departments, Batting coach and official assistant coach Sanjay Bangar and more importantly head coach Ravi Shashtri were poised to face firm scrutiny. Taking over the top position from Anil Kumble after the latter was forced to step down owing to his rift with Kohli in 2017, Ravi Shastri had been inefficient in plugging the holes in Indian batting line-up which have proved a roadblock in several critical pressure situations and cost India several important tournaments.
Nonetheless this by this decision it is clear that the BCCI has decided to give Ravi Shashtri another chance at the top coaching position in the Indian cricket team. CAC chairman Kapil Dev going on the defensive over this decision had said, “To say Shastri’s reappointment (until the 2020-2021 season) was a done deal is without basis…” he also added “For the sake of transparency, we did not tell each other who got how many points. No notes were exchanged. We went to that length…”
Virat Kohli’s relation with the team administration has also raised several eyebrows, the current head coach Ravi Shastri has been dubbed by many as just a ‘yes man’ to the Indian captain. Coupled with this, the announcement of Ravi Shastri’s reappointment might also translate into resistance for Rohit Sharma’s ascendency to captaincy. With his spectacular record in T20 captaincy with the IPL franchise Mumbai Indians, Rohit Sharma beats Virat Kohli’s record with Royal challengers Bangalore hands down. Rohit had also displayed optimum captaincy skills in limited opportunities he got with the team. Rohit boasts a win percentage of 80% (12 wins, 3 loses) compared to just 57.14% (12 Win ,9 loses, 1 NR) in T20’s while in ODI Rohit Sharma match count as captain is low however the winning percentage is 80 % as compared to 74.26 percent for Kohli.
Ravi Shastri has emerged as the favorite among Tom Moody, Mike Hesson, Phil Simmons, Lalchand Rajput and Robin Singh while Phil Simmons had pulled out of the race. According to the CAC, Mike Hesson came closest to dislodging Ravi Shastri. Nonetheless this decision is going to impact the team dynamics as clear contradictions are visible in the team. BCCI’s decision to go ahead with Ravi Shashtri might just be the start of the downfall of Indian cricket.