Dhoni caught us all off guard, says Shastri

Dhoni caught us all off guard, says Shastri

Team director Ravi Shastri has expressed his surprise at skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s decision to walk away from Tests.

“When he walked into the dressing-room, got the team together and said what he had to, he caught all of us off guard,” the former India captain said.

“There were no dramas, he just said, very openly, ‘I can’t play all formats any more so I’m announcing my retirement from Tests’. He has always been someone who will do what he wants to, and he stayed true to that till the last moment. To have the guts to say to his team that he could not go on playing all formats, it tells you how honest he is with himself and his mates.”

Trailing the four-match series 0-2 after managing a draw in the third Test, India have already conceded the Border-Gavaskar Trophy to Australia but the all-rounder was not bothered about the scoreline and still believes in his young team.

“I am not bothered about the scoreline because of the way they have played. I have seen teams in the past, where we have gone down, buckled under pressure and there has been no competition whatsoever. Here they have taken the attack to the opposition,” Shastri told ‘Star Sports’.

“The average age of this side is 26. Again, no excuse. But give this side, like I said, 12 months and you watch, they will be a bullet side. They will be ready to play anywhere,” he added.

The visitors lost the first match in Adelaide by 48 runs and conceded the Brisbane game by four wickets before putting up a fight at the MCG and Shastri said the loopholes notwithstanding, the team is fighting on.

“Areas are there they have to be addressed. Like better batting from the tail. How do you cope with pressure? How do you don’t have batting collapses? How do you eradicate your mistakes and don’t keep repeating them. Those have to be addressed,” the former Indian captain said.

“But this is the first draw at MCG in the last 10 years. And when you have a scoreboard total of 530 and the batting that I saw on Day 3, I think I have not seen for a long long time. I think whole of Australia stood up and acknowledged the fact that two young turks took the attack to the opposition. Everyone in Australia came to know that this Indian team has not just come out here to play cricket. They have come out here to compete and look to try and win. And that is the most important thing for me. The scoreline doesn’t matter.”

The 52-year-old Shastri, who played 80 Tests and 150 ODIs during his 11-year-old career, opined that the team does miss a Sourav Ganguly-like all-rounder. “What we miss overseas is a batsman in the top six who can bowl. Someone like Sourav. When Sourav played he could bowl 10 or 15 overs. A medium-pace bowling all-rounder overseas. If you have that, it will be a big help. And that will be the endeavour,” he said.

Shastri also asserted that the young pace battery of Mohammed Shami, Varun Aaron, Umesh Yadav, would have realised the importance of fitness on this tour. “What they (the fast bowlers) would have realised is that how important fitness is.

To have a sustained level of performance overseas, where you are tested on how good you are on that last session of play. You might bowl a good spell in the first session, you might have a good one in the second session of play.

“But my challenge to them is show me what you can do in that last session. Can you pick up 2 or 3 wickets, can you have that sustained aggression? That makes a big difference. So the writing is on the paper for them, it’s now up to them to go out there and perform. if you don’t do it, someone else will.”

Related: Dhoni calls it quits from Tests, Kohli to lead in Sydney

Related: We have found ways to trouble ourselves: Dhoni 


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