Show character, exhorts Shastri

Ravi Shastri

Indian batsmen have come in for severe criticism for the way they have wilted against the English pace attack that has seen them trail 2-0 in the five-match Test series.

Veteran James Anderson has proved to be their nemesis yet again, leading the bowling charts with 13 wickets, while his pace partner Stuart Broad, who ran through the middle-order in the second innings of the Lord’s Test, has seven scalps. The much-hyped Indian batting has even come a cropper against all-rounders Ben Stokes and Chris Woakes, who have bagged six and four wickets respectively in just one game each.

Only skipper Virat Kohli has looked comfortable against them with the rest struggling to even put bat to ball at times. India head coach Ravi Shastri, addressing the media, felt conditions have been extremely difficult but asked his wards to show ‘character’ in the remaining three games.

“Conditions have been tough as you have seen right through this series. But that’s where character comes into play and discipline comes into play. The resolve to know where your off stump is, leave a lot of balls and be prepared to look ugly and dirty and show some grit,” said Shastri.

One major worry for the Indian team has been the poor form of Ajinkya Rahane. The middle-order batsman, often India’s main man in testing conditions away from home, has faltered in the four innings. Shastri felt singling out players is unfair and the entire team needs to fight it out as a unit.

“I don’t think it’s fair to single out any one player. Batsmen from both teams have struggled. When the occasion demands, it’s a case of mental resolve, how you put mind over matter. Mental discipline will be the key as far as batsmen are concerned going forward in this Test match. He (Rahane) is one of our pillars he will remain one of our pillars.”

Only once in the history of Test cricket has a team overturned a 2-0 deficit to win a series — way back in 1936-37 when an Australian side containing the legendary Don Bradman beat England 3-2 to clinch the Ashes. Despite a majority of their batsmen being woefully out of form and their confidence in shambles, Shastri proclaimed they are here to win.

“You have been in this position a couple of times before and you have responded. There is no reason why (we can’t turn it around). One thing for sure in this unit, there is no negative bone in spite of what happened in the last Test match. Conditions favoured England and that is no excuse whatsoever, it can happen to any side. We are here without a negative bone, wanting to play to win, as simple as that.”

Finally, Shastri admitted it was a mistake — a rare occurrence — to have picked Kuldeep Yadav in place of Umesh Yadav in overcast conditions at Lord’s. “In hindsight it was an error. We should have gone, seeing the conditions, with an extra seamer. It might have helped. Then again, you didn’t know how much it would rain, whether a match could go into the final day where just in case spinner is needed and the ball starts to turn. But in hindsight the way things panned out, the amount it rained, the time we lost, a seamer could have been a better option.”

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