CHENNAI: He may be one among those in the Indian team's dressing room who's served up most fodder for the meme-makers of the country, but you can't really deny the impact that Ravi Shastri has had as coach.
"The CAC (Cricket Advisory Committee) hasn't contacted me yet. If they want my opinion, I'll go and speak to them. With Ravi Bhai, we share a great camaraderie, and will definitely be very happy if he continues. But I haven't been contacted."
Yes, the open backing that Shastri got from Virat Kohli in Mumbai, on the day the team left for their series against West Indies in their backyard, has resulted in a truckload of brickbats for both.
But, all speculation about the team's internal dynamics apart, a logical dissection of India's sojourn under Shastri since July 2017 supports the India captain's vocal vouching for the incumbent coach's continuation. And, we aren't even touching upon the fact that at the end of the day, two people who hold crucial positions that shape our country's cricketing landscape need to be on the same page. Interpersonal synergy is a prerequisite, and in this regard Kohli and Shastri are pretty much on the same paragraph, let alone the page number.
The why behind Kohli's support for Shastri begins to unravel itself from the start of 2018. The series scoreline may not say so, but South Africa was almost breached. The same holds for England, that even-more-crushing result notwithstanding. It was poetic justice of sorts that Australia was where what India set out to achieve in the longest format finally came to fruition. Yes, it was the best batsman in the world and a belligerent hustler of a pacer who had brought Tim Paine and his men the pain, but coaches do shape the teams they coach, no?
Going purely by statistics, white isn't exactly the colour that really brings out the image of success on Shastri's canvas. Blue is better.
Yes, the World Cup didn't come back to its true home. But, India went in as favourites because of what happened in the two years that preceded that fateful semifinal. An Asia Cup. A six-win streak in terms of bilateral ODI series. South Africa? Conquered. England? Nearly. New Zealand? Check. Australia? Done. That coveted SENA feat almost happened under Shastri's watch. We forgot to throw in one Nidahas Trophy as an extra cherry on that cake.
And, it isn't as if wins are the only record by which Shastri's coaching tenure can be summed up. Jasprit Bumrah is now India's bowling brahmastra in all formats. The word "all" wouldn't have been put in front of "formats" if the think-tank — also read Shastri — hadn't been gutsy enough to throw him into the deep end in South Africa. India's spin twins were groomed under his predecessor, but they became KulCha under Shastri. The same can be said of Hardik Pandya too. All these are names that are — and may very well go on — defining India's cricketing legacy.
CAC has drawn its lines. "The captain can say anything. It doesn't bother us. We are a committee. That's his opinion and the BCCI takes a note of it, not us," are the words member Anshuman Gaekwad used to do so. Kapil Dev, another member, did the same on Thursday, albeit with a bit of sugarcoating. But, Shastri has his wins, his achievements, his records, and even his captain, have spoken.