Shastri's comments disrespect achievers

Ravishankar Jayadritha Shastri always gives a good headline, but is prone to getting carried away and making bombastic - some would say outrageous - statements.

By LOKENDRA PRATAP SAHI in Calcutta
  • Published 7.09.18
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Anil Kumble and teammates celebrate their 72-run win over Australia in the third Test in Perth on January 19, 2008. A file picture

Calcutta: Ravishankar Jayadritha Shastri always gives a good headline, but is prone to getting carried away and making bombastic - some would say outrageous - statements.

On Wednesday afternoon, for example, Shastri went to the extent of saying: "I can't see any other Indian team in the last 15-20 years which has had the same run in such a short time (as Virat Kohli's)." In other words, no captain or head coach/coach has enjoyed the same success as the present lot.

Some would be more than tempted to call for a retraction from Shastri, as his assessment has been pretty scandalous.

As India are in the midst of a Test series overseas, it's assumed that the claim made by Shastri is about series featuring the oldest format away from home. More often than not, after all, every nation roars like a tiger in its backyard.

Shastri is in his second innings as head of a strong-in-numbers support staff.

Of course, it's Shastri's job to keep the morale of his players high. At the same time, however, being a former India captain, Shastri should be mindful of comments which disrespect the high achievers of the past.

Sure, teams have faltered and lost Tests which ought to have been won. But that holds true of Kohli and Co. too. In January, India couldn't win in Cape Town (208 was needed). Then, during the ongoing tour of England, perfectly achievable targets weren't reached in Birmingham, where 194 was the requirement, and in Southampton (245).

If only India had won the Test series in South Africa and taken to the final match in England with a 2-2 scoreline, would Shastri have found himself on firm footing.

That's not the case.

Going by statistics, Virat has won nine Tests overseas, but what should not be forgotten is that except Johannesburg and Nottingham, the other wins have been against a weak West Indies and listless Sri Lanka.

The wins in both Johannesburg and Nottingham came this year, but the one in South Africa was after the three-Test series had been lost. While one doesn't wish to take absolutely anything away from that fine win, the series was then devoid of competitive edge.

Basically, then, it's only the very recent and highly creditable win in Nottingham that counts as a massive feather in Virat's cap. Others, well, are little more than numbers in the context of the quality of opposition teams in the past.

That being so, the otherwise sharp Shastri ought to have remembered some of India's greatest Test wins 2002 onwards - Port of Spain, Leeds, Adelaide and Rawalpindi under Sourav Ganguly; Multan, Kingston, Johannesburg and Nottingham with Rahul Dravid at the helm; Perth and Galle under Anil Kumble; Durban and London (Lord's) with Mahendra Singh Dhoni at the helm.

Each one of those wins came in the "15-20 years" time frame talked about by Shastri.

It's interesting that a decade ago, in an interview to The Telegraph, Shastri hailed the spectacular win in Perth, after the distressing and distracting happenings in the previous Test, as "one of our greatest" as it came inside four days "in an Australian stronghold."

Stronghold, indeed, the WACA was. As for Shastri, he was then in Australia on another of his TV assignments.

Sourav, meanwhile, chose to respond in a dignified way. At the Eden, on Thursday evening, he said: "What can I say? You (the Media) are the best judge."

Wins, and losses, are cast in stone. Let the aam aadmi judge.