Cricket

Shastri defends Kohli and his boys for test series loss against Proteas

[caption id="attachment_61993" align="alignnone" width="580"]DSC08749 Team India Head Coach Ravi Shastri at the Wanderers on Monday. Image Source: Xtra Time[/caption]

Debasis Sen, Johannesburg: Team India coach Ravi Shastri on Monday defended Kohli and his boys for the test series loss against South Africa. It may sound ridiculous but Shastri said that the team in spite of the 0-2 loss, played like the No. 1 Test team in patches.

The former India cricketer also admitted that their late arrival in South Africa for the three match series against the Proteas has somehow contributed to their struggles in Cape Town and Centurion.

The India players arrived in the country on December 29 with the first Test match scheduled for Cape Town on January 5 and they did not have a tour match to acclimatise to the unfamiliar conditions.

Speaking ahead of Wednesday's third and final Test at the Wanderers Stadium‚ Shastri admitted that ten days of practice ahead of the first match in Cape Town could have helped them a great deal.

“These are overseas conditions and in hindsight I would say another ten days of practice here would have made a difference but that is not an excuse‚" he said.

"We are playing on the same pitch and I would rather focus on the 20 wickets we have taken in the two Test matches.

"Those two 20 wickets gave us a chance in both Test matches but our top order did not fire as we expected.

“Unfortunately‚ the schedule is like that but I am hopeful that in the future when itineraries are made this type of issue will be taken into account and there is absolutely no about that.

"You must get here weeks earlier to prepare.”

With the Proteas on the verge of completing a whitewash over India‚ Shastri said his players are preparing well and they will be ready to make amends at a venue where they have not lost to South Africa after four matches.

In their four encounters here in Johannesburg‚ India have won one with the other three matches ending in draws.

They had chances in both Test matches to win but they did not make the most of it.

"If you believe you can win‚ you don’t look forward to a Test match and in my view it is as simple as that.

"I hope that mistakes‚ some of which were schoolboy errors‚ will be rectified.

"It’s tough conditions and there is not much between the teams‚ so you can’t afford to make mistakes like that‚” he said.

India captain Virat Kohli has been bitterly criticized for not fielding consistent teams in recent times and Shastri said they take hard decisions under tremendous situations.

“When you have choices‚ it will always be the case‚" he said.

Shastri also defended the exclusion of Rahane from the playing XI for the first two test matches.

"If Ajinkya (Rahane) had played the first Test and not done well, you would have asked me the same question about why Rohit hasn't played. Rohit played, he didn't do well, so you are asking me why Ajinkya didn't play," a defiant Shastri told reporters when queried about the selection policy.
He added, "The same would have happened with the fast bowlers. So you have choices. The team management has discussed what the best option is. They stick by it and they go by it.”
Shastri also refused to the criticism back home.
"Experts are meant to do a job. They can say what they want. It doesn't affect us. They have a job to do, so they are entitled to what they say," Shastri said.
Shastri's dig at experts came following former India opener Virender Sehwag's criticism of skipper Virat Kohli's selection policy.
After suffering a 72-run defeat in the first Test in Cape Town, India made three changes to their playing XI with KL Rahul replacing Shikhar Dhawan and Ishant Sharma coming in for Bhuvneshwar Kumar, whose three-wicket burst in the first morning of the opening Test had rocked the hosts.

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