Batsmen didn't grab chances, says Shastri

Last Updated 22 January 2018, 14:42 IST

India may have lost the three-Test series already after defeats in Cape Town and Centurion but Head Coach Ravi Shatsri believes that the Virat Kohli-led side has played like the No 1 side in the world.

"We did, we had our moments in both the Test matches and we looked like the No 1 team when we bowled out South Africa for a 130," Shastri said here on Monday. "When we closed the gap thanks to Virat's brilliant innings (in Centurion) and had them 2-down with just 30 runs ahead, we looked like the No 1 team in overseas conditions. Not many teams look half that when they come to India," he emphasised.

While India's bowling has been top notch, barring Virat Kohli's 153 in the second Test, there has not been a single half-century from any of the Indian batsmen who were coming here on the back of impressive home run with the bat. Shastri blamed the top-order batsmen for India's inability to convert winnings chances into wins.

"They have had chances in both Test matches but they didn't make the most of it," he said, talking about the mood in the group. "I would say our bowlers did a great job. I mean no one expected our bowlers to fire the way they did and take 20 wickets. So, I rather harp on that because for me that's the biggest positive that has come out of this tour. We are here to live and learn from our mistakes and like I said that is the most positive. Even our top order, we go in with six batsmen, five batsmen and an all-rounder, so it means that responsibility on both sides on the top order is that much more. So, you have to guts it out, there are no shortcuts or half measures, you have to grind it out there," he explained.

Shastri said the three run-outs – Cheteshwar Pujara twice and Hardik Pandya once – hurt him a lot because they were school-boy errors and that the players have been firmly told to rectify those errors.

"As it is the conditions are very tough, and on top of that if someone gets run out then you feel bad and there is no doubt about that. And you hope that those mistakes don't happen again because at times they are schoolboy errors. They have to be rectified. In tough conditions like these where there is not much between the two teams, you cannot afford to give away wickets like that. Boys have been told that."

The former India all-rounder also defended the selection of Rohit Sharma. "That will always be the case," he began. "If Ajinkya had played first, and not done well, you would have asked me the same question, why Rohit hasn't played. Rohit played, he didn't do well, you are asking me Ajinkya didn't play. The same would have happened with the fast bowlers. So, when you have choices, the team management has discussed what is the best option and they stick by it, they go by it."

Having had a look at the Wanderers wicket for the final Test, Shastri felt it was a green carpet but went on to add quickly that they weren't complaining about the pitches.

"Well there is grass on the track and you expect that overseas," he noted. "We are not here to moan about the tracks because like I said at the start of the game, both teams play on the same surface. The good thing though is people won't crib and moan when matches in India get over in two and a half days. Neither will they ask me what kind of track are you playing on. We are not here to complain, we have taken 20 wickets. When you take 20 wickets you have a chance to win. If we had batted better we might have well done that," he offered.

(Published 22 January 2018, 14:02 IST)

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