India coach Ravi Shastri’s love for spouting out catchy punchlines when in front of the microphone stretches well beyond his stint with the national team.
India’s success may have been a mixed bag, filled with lost opportunities in Tests but punctuated with immense success with the white ball. Despite crashing to another series loss in England, Shastri was defiant and on Wednesday stated that the margin “could have been 3-1 to India or a 2-2.”
Here, we look at some of his other claims:
“We have won nine matches overseas and three series”
– Shastri after India’s loss against England at Southampton. Never mind that the “overseas” wins the India coach was talking about was against struggling sides Sri Lanka and West Indies. Shastri has now overseen series defeats against Australia (in 2014), South Africa and England.
“I can’t see any other Indian team in the last 15-20 years that has had the same run in such a short time, and you have had some great players playing in those series.”
– A great disservice to the “great players” Shastri is referring to here. Facts, though, narrate a different tale.
Between 2002, and 2011, India drew and won a series in England, beat New Zealand on their own turf, came from behind to draw in South Africa, and came close to an unprecedented win in Australia (2003-’04). It might have been a different story Down Under in 2008 if the controversial Sydney Test was wiped out of the equation – India lost that series 1-2. There was also the small matter of defeating Pakistan in their own backyard.
“And let me tell you, it was just a trailer what you saw in Sri Lanka now wait for the movie.”
– Here, he is talking about former Indian captain MS Dhoni. On multiple occasions after making this comment, Dhoni’s position has since come under the scanner on multiple occasions with his finishing powers supposedly on the wane. There were no punchlines then.
“I wouldn’t say that. We don’t complain about pitches. We go and play and the message is very clear — when you come to my country, never question the pitches because I will say, ‘take a fu****g walk.’”
– Okay, then. Never mind that some of the tracks have been rated “poor” by the International Cricket Council on more than one occasion. The lines are clearly blurred when it comes to creating a spin-friendly wicket and setting up a minefield a la Pune in 2017 against Australia.
“My philosophy is very simple (in) your country, I don’t ask questions. (In) my country, you don’t ask.”
– Life is a pitch, isn’t it? That’s why you end up playing one spinner on a dry wicket and pick two spinners on a damp surface. Never mind doing thousands of pitch reports as a commentator.
“Best-ever pace attack by a mile”
– Shastri on the current Indian pace battery. Yes, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma and Jasprit Bumrah created problems aplenty for England, but the fact remains that they failed to clean up the opposition. England were tottering at 86/6 on day one before going on to wrap up the series. Maybe the former India all-rounder should wait for his pacers to be a part of a series win before going on to make more tall claims such as these.
“And the bench strength; two of the most potent, best bowlers for English conditions would be Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar – we didn’t have either of them available right the way through the one-day series and the first two Tests till Bumrah played here.”
– Yes, we saw how Bhuvneshwar Kumar was handled in South Africa, Shastri; dropped in the second Test despite being the pick of the bowlers in the first.
“We don’t want him to be an Usain Bolt, we want him to be Pujara. Stay there at the crease. The last thing you want to do is give your wicket away to a run-out.”
– Pujara’s foolhardy run-out at Lord’s and getting out to an inexplicable hook shot at the stroke of lunch at Trent Bridge tells you a different story. Even skipper Kohli has asked Pujara to amp up his scoring rate in the past. It’s not like Pujara is a sure-shot starter either. Whose words do we believe?
“This is the biggest problem with our critics. When you win, the other team is not playing well. When you win in Sri Lanka, they are a weak team.”
– One look at Sri Lanka’s records in recent times tells a tale.
“I would go to the bookstore and buy the latest Oxford dictionary, just to improve my vocabulary [to praise Kohli]”
– Yes, sure.
And, of course.....
“Biggest load of cow dung”
– Shastri’s shot went as fast as a tracer bullet when fronted with rumours linking him to a Bollywood actress.