Ravi Shastri will go down as one of, if not the, most successful head coaches of Indian cricket. If John Wright took India to new heights, and under Gary Kirsten’s tutelage, India won the World Cup in 2011, then Shastri helped transform the next gen Indian team – one that was not afraid of any situation or opposition and dealt fire with fire. The Shastri-Virat Kohli combination worked wonders for Indian cricket as the team twice registered Test series wins in Australia, levelled 2-2 in England and reached the first-ever World Test Championship final. With Shastri at help, India lived up to the moniker of being a strong traveling unit.
Shastri was always vocal about his support for his players, even if they performed badly. But at the same time, the former India coach did not have room for complacency, fitness issues or players whom he thought did not learn despite repeated guidance. Veteran India wicketkeeper Dinesh Karthik, who played during the Shastri era, especially during the 2019 World Cup, described the coaching methods of the former India all-rounder and identified two things that he could not tolerate.
“He had a very low tolerance for somebody who wouldn’t bat at a certain pace he did not like or someone who was doing very differently in the nets and in the match, he would go and bat differently. He would not be very appreciative of that. Shastri knew exactly what he wanted from the team, the way in which it was played but his tolerance was very little for failures. He always used to push people to do very well,” Karthik said on Cricbuzz docuseries ‘Summer Stalemate’ .
Most of the times, Shastri would take a bullet for the team, but there have been occasions when he has made his disappointment with a certain player public. In 2018, Shastri openly criticised Cheteshwar Pujara for his poor running between the wicket, saying he does not want him to be ‘Usain Bolt’. Later, in 2019, Shastri pointed out Rishabh Pant’s rash shots and said that if the young wicketkeeper did not learn, he will receive a ‘rap on the knuckles’. Such was the aura of Shastri. Shastri the player was always full of promise but he could not fully use it, but Karthik feels Shastri the coach more than made up for it.
“I think Shastri the player was somebody who was probably not as talented but fulfilled his talent as coach. He did much better than what he was expected to do. As a coach, he was a larger-than-life person. who pushed players to try and achieve special things,” he added.