Former Team India head coach Ravi Shastri has admitted that the squad chosen for the 2019 ODI World Cup left a lot to be desired. He was particularly baffled by the decision to pick three wicketkeepers. Shastri, however, stated that he never interfered in selection matters.
India’s squad selection for the 2019 World Cup caused a massive uproar among fans and former cricketers. Ambati Rayudu was not picked after Virat Kohli openly acknowledged in the build-up to the ICC event that he would be the team’s no.4 batter.
Asked to share his views on the puzzling team selection, Shastri conceded that either Rayudu or Shreyas Iyer should have been in the team instead of three wicketkeepers. Shastri told Times of India in an interview:
“I had no say in that (team selection). But I wasn’t okay with three wicketkeepers being picked for the World Cup. Either Ambati or Shreyas could’ve come in. What was the logic in having MS Dhoni, Rishabh [Pant] and Dinesh [Karthik] all together?”
Shastri, however, added:
“But I never interfered with the selectors’ work, except when I was asked for feedback or as part of a general discussion.”
India had an impressive run in the 2019 ODI World Cup held in England until their batting crumbled against New Zealand in the semi-finals in Manchester. Chasing a target of 240, India collapsed to 24 for 4 before half-centuries from Ravindra Jadeja and MS Dhoni lifted them. India, eventually, went down by 18 runs.
“It was September 2017, and I told him to be ‘ready’ for SA” – Ravi Shastri on Jasprit Bumrah’s Test debut
Under Shastri’s tenure as head coach, India’s fast bowling department developed into one of the best in the business. Jasprit Bumrah has had a key role to play in making India a lethal bowling outfit.
While Bumrah first made a name for himself as a limited-overs pacer, there were apprehensions over his Test utility given his unconventional bowling action. But the fast bowler answered his critics with a memorable Test debut in South Africa. Bumrah claimed four scalps in Cape Town, although India went down by 72 runs.
Shastri asserted that he was confident of Bumrah making a mark in South Africa during the Test series. The 59-year-old recalled:
“Cape Town was on my mind almost two months before we had landed there. Me and (Bharat) Arun were at a function in Kolkata during Durga Puja when I called Jasprit. It was September 2017, and I told him to be ‘ready’ for SA. That guy couldn’t believe – all he said was ‘playing Test cricket is my dream’.”
Shastri further said while praising Bumrah:
“The spell he bowled in the second innings at Cape Town – that’s just what we had expected him to do. And that was just the start. He’s a quick learner and has a good attitude. The only other bowler in India who took the same amount of time to declare himself to the world – that here’s a great – was Kapil Dev.”
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While India went on to lose the three-match series 2-1, Bumrah claimed seven wickets in the famous Test win in Johannesburg, including his maiden five-for in the first innings.