Shastri brushes aside reports of rift between Dhoni and Kohli

Shastri brushes aside reports of rift between Dhoni and Kohli

Indian cricket team’s director Ravi Shastri has dismissed reports of a rift between Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Virat Kohli.

Shastri said the two players have utmost respect for each other and the Indian team was “one honest bunch” who believed in playing for each other.

“It’s (rift between Dhoni and Kohli) the biggest load of bull**** I have been hearing. It’s one honest bunch which believes in playing for each other. That’s why the results you have had over the last year, 70 percent of matches won,” Shastri said.

“You ought to see the respect they have for each other. Kohli is young, flamboyant, in-your-face character. He will learn with the exposure he gets. He is only 26, let him settle into captaincy for a year or two,” he said.

Shastri spoke highly of current ODI captain Dhoni, calling him an all-time legend, who played on his own terms.

“Dhoni is an all-time legend. He is the kind of bloke who plays on his own terms. It’s best exemplified in the manner he quit Test cricket. I would have known many who would have loved to go for a 100-Test milestone,” he said. Shastri also spoke about his experience with a young team, his own role in shaping their careers, the need to identify the pacers for different conditions and future of Indian cricket.

Shastri has been in charge of the team for the past eight months, in which the team has played five Tests and 25 ODIs and former all-rounder has this to say in his assessment.

“The context here is necessary,” he noted. “A win at Lord’s in England and then hammered out of sight in next three Tests. The boys literally had to pick themselves up from the shoelaces. That they did. And to have done so with the aggressive brand of cricket for eight months, including four Tests in Australia and World Cup, was heady. Even after we lost the first two ODIs in Bangladesh, all I told them was to enjoy the last game. I wanted them to remember they have had an outstanding year. That they had won against every country barring Australia on a cricket field.

Shastri also dwelt on Dhoni’s disappointment with the pacers. “If we are to climb up the ladder, this is an area we need to pay attention to,” he pointed out. “A Test is never won without 20 wickets. But it’s no panic time yet. We just need to identify bowlers for different conditions, the classic case of horses for courses. It ought not to be all-pace on the subcontinental tracks. Accuracy and skills should count more. Bowlers who fit that bill should be encouraged.”

A lot of Indian batsmen have given credit to Shastri for adjustments in their techniques and he was asked if India still need a coach. “It’s just not me, but the entire support staff. These boys were willing to listen and make those little changes. That only comes out of trust and respect. They know what’s in the dressing room, stays there. The three in support staff — Sanjay (Bangar), (Bharat) Arun, (R) Sridhar — haven’t dropped from the heaven. They have been in the system for a long, long time. They have spent years on the field.

They watched these boys while they were being hatched as cricketers. It’s the comfort level between the players and the support staff which bodes well. My take on head coach is its’ BCCI’s call. We already have three coaches plus me. A head coach just shouldn’t fill the post but add value. Representing India shouldn’t come easy, isn’t it?

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