Last thing you want is an injury during IPL: Ravi Shastri

Highlights

  • Shastri backed Kohli's aggression saying, "Absolutely, playing within the rules, why not?"
  • Refusing to compare Kohli with Tendulkar, Shastri said, "Kohli and Tendulkar are very, very similar… the sacrifices they make, the determination, the concentration, the passion."
  • "You can never discount injuries at the last minute," Shastri said.

Ravi Shastri. (Getty Images)Ravi Shastri. (Getty Images)
Ravi Shastri talks to Mirror Now's Faye D'Souza about managing World Cup-bound players in the IPL, his equation with captain Virat Kohli, the side's Cup prospects & much more.

Excerpts from an exclusive interview...

Is the team mentally ready for the World Cup?

Absolutely.

Do you believe that there's room for changes right now or you are set with the lineup?

More or less. The nucleus of the team is there. But you can never discount injuries at the last minute. You have only 15 allowed for the World Cup but you've got to have about 18-20 in the mix.

With the IPL coming up, are you concerned that (World Cup-bound) players might overdo it?

That will always be a concern because the last thing you want is injury. The World Cup is immediately after the IPL and if someone gets injured, it will be a concern. I will be lying if I say I am not on the edge of my seat. I will be watching every game closely.

On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate our chances in the World Cup?

Well, I will be lying if we don't think we can go the distance.

There is an appeal now for India not to play Pakistan in the World Cup...

I will leave it entirely to the BCCI and the government, because they know what's happening. They will take a call and you will go with whatever the government says.

And if the decision is not to play the World Cup?

If the government says it's that sensitive, you don't need to play the World Cup, I will go with my government.

Do you believe this is the best traveling side Indian cricket has ever had?

Close to, if not the best. I would say so across all formats. You have to win more than you lose. So if you look at what this team has done overseas in the last five years it is unbelievable.

A lot of your return to the team depended on the relationship between you and Virat Kohli...

We are very similar in our mindset. We are both aggressive in our thinking, which leads on to how the team plays. The emphasis is on work ethics, where no one can drop their guard. Punctuality is the number one thing. If you are late, the bus will leave. But it doesn't happen as these guys are very professional.

Kohli is fairly aggressive. Is that something you actively encourage?

Absolutely, playing within the rules, why not? I am not there to play carrom. I am there to win and play it hard and within the rules. It's a tough sport and it's a tough world out there.

There was also controversy created between Kohli and Dhoni in the past, that perhaps their different methods of captaining would clash…

Each one has his own style and each one is different. When you mention Virat and MS, yes, they are different, the way they play and the way they captain. MS was the senior man when Virat was coming through the ranks. Virat gave him the respect he deserved. Now MS is not the captain, Virat is, so MS does the same thing. The mutual respect for each other is massive and that's all you want as coach.

Is it fair to compare Kohli with Sachin Tendulkar?

I do not compare leaders. If there is one man who stands out because of sheer performances and averages, it is Donald Bradman. Sobers, in his time, was the best cricketer. Kohli and Tendulkar are very, very similar… the sacrifices they make, the determination, the concentration, the passion. Both are role models. When you have a level of performance that high, you are going to be compared, but it's each one to his generation.

On the controversy over the Rahul and Pandya TV show, there was a lot of criticism of the fact that maybe BCCI handled that badly. Did you think the BCCI was being too hard on them?

They needed the rap on the knuckles. What was said, what was played out, they just for a moment forgot that they are a part of the Indian cricket team. So that's why the rap on the knuckles, which could have been anything but you can't book them for anything. Can you? Legally? We have had guys who have played against us like Ben Stokes who had a criminal assault case going on in London. But he played the Test against us. Then they gave him leave to go and attend the hearing and he came back and played. I thought, at the end of it all, it was handled well.

What is your advice to the younger players, who get hit by this wall of fame and money and criticism all at once…

My advice is never forget what's taken you there.

There has also been some criticism about wives and girlfriends traveling with the team…

I think you can draw a line there. The players know if it is going to affect their performances. They will take the decision. When you see the amount of time they spend away from home, you have got to be practical. But, yes, if it is a big event like the World Cup or a big tournament where you to be absolutely focused 24x7, it's different.

Is the country tough on the team and players?

Yes. I would say they are very sentimental.

Are you as coach tough on the players?


If the work ethics are not right.


So you haven't been afraid of dropping a player if you feel that he is not on his 'A' game…


Absolutely. The bottom line is, whatever you are doing is not personal. You are doing it in the interest of the team. Earlier you could have names like Tendulkar or Kumble or a Dravid. But now they are saying 'an Indian team', collectively, out there. Looks like a team that has smelt blood and is playing in that fashion. o


(Catch the full interview on Mirror Now at 9 pm today)
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