BCCI has invited applications for the head coach position of the Indian cricket team but Ravi Shastri is favourite to resume his tenure with strong backing from the skipper.
"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."
Ravi Shastri boasted the above words in a press conference last year forgetting that India's away series wins in that time frame had come against the likes of West Indies and Sri Lanka (twice).
India went on to beat Australia in Australia to redeem their reputation in Test cricket under Shastri but that came against a depleted Australian side without David Warner and Steven Smith.
In the World T20 in 2016, Champions Trophy in 2017 and World Cup 2019, India were favourites to win the trophies each time. Yet, their campaigns ended at key stages in each of these tournaments. Since 2013, India haven't won a single ICC trophy despite being one of the best all-round units in terms of talent.
Let's not take Shastri’s record lightly even if his Indian side isn't the best touring side in the last 15-20 years. He has led India to heights but much of that has come on the back of a dominant bowling attack led by Jasprit Bumrah and a batting line-up led by the indomitable Virat Kohli.
With a solid batting line-up and a strong bowling attack, any other result would have been way under par. Yet, India have failed to grab the big moments primarily due to the flaws in their team which Shastri has failed to address.
The ‘Number 4’ spot in ODIs, openers in Tests, Dhoni's place in the side and identifying the ideal bowling combinations for conditions are some of the unresolved issues in Shastri's tenure. There has been consistency in the support staff too for these five years but none of these issues have been solved.
The Shastri - Kohli bond has also allegedly created rifts within the team. Even if these are just rumours, the dictatorship-like rule under Shastri - with his mocking of the press a standout example - has led to several controversies in Indian cricket. Several fringe and established players ranging from Ambati Rayudu to Shreyas Iyer to Manoj Tiwary and Murali Vijay have spoken about the lack of communication and sudden change of team dynamics. This has left several players demotivated in Shastri's tenure.
Even with BCCI calling in new applications for head coach and explicitly stating that Virat Kohli will not be involved in the final selection of the coach, the skipper went out of his way to voice his support for the head coach.
"The CAC hasn't contacted me yet. If they want my opinion, I'll go and speak to them. With Ravi Bhai, we share a great camaraderie, and will definitely be very happy if he continues. But I haven't been contacted so far," Virat Kohli said recently.
Should a key influencer like Kohli voice such an opinion publically when the application process is going on? Harsha Bhogle, for one, doesn't think so. He took to Twitter to express his dissatisfaction at Kohli's comments.
It isn't a good idea, when applications are being invited, for key influencers to be stating their preference. https://t.co/Ooh6lLiFFZ
— Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha) July 30, 2019
With the kind of toxic camaraderie the captain and coach shares, will Indian cricket be able to progress any more under Shastri?
Feature image courtesy: AFP / Punit Paranjpe