Newly-appointed Indian cricket team coach Ravi Shastri on Wednesday predicted that the current team led by Virat Kohli can be a better Test unit than any Indian team of the past. Shastri, who served as the Team Director from 2014-2016, on Tuesday returned as the head coach of the side after prolonged deliberations by the Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC) comprising the trio of Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and V.V.S. Laxman.
The 55-year-old Shastri was given a two-year term till the 2019 ICC World Cup, his first and immediate assignment being the Sri Lanka tour. India are to play three Tests, five One-Day Internationals (ODI) and a one-off T20 International, starting July 26. Exuding confidence in the Kohli-led side, the former India all-rounder said the current team has the pedigree to perform in all conditions.
“It can be a better Test team than any Indian team we have had. This is a team you can travel with. There is a battery of pacers which can do well in all conditions. Their age is such that they are playing at the right time,” Shastri was quoted as saying by a news channel from London.
Asked about the challenges of coaching the Indian team, especially after his predecessor and former India skipper Anil Kumble’s one-year stint ended on a sour note amid widespread reports of a tiff with Kohli, Shastri said he is up for the challenge.
“I have always relished a challenge and I am looking forward to my stint with India. When you are asked to open the batting in overcast conditions, it is a challenge. I am used to challenges, bring on another one,” Shastri said.
Shastri will be assisted by veteran India pacer Zaheer Khan as the bowling consultant and current India A and Under-19 coach Rahul Dravid, who was appointed as an overseas batting consultant. On his equation with former India captain Ganguly, Shastri said: “We are two former captains (Sourav Ganguly), there will be arguments. But there is mutual respect.”
Shastri and Ganguly were engaged in a bitter war of words last year, when the former failed to appear in person during the coach selection interview and later lost out to Kumble.