As India makes an early exit from the 2021 T20 World Cup, it marks the end of Ravi Shastri’s four-year tenure as the head coach. In two successive stints of two years each, Shastri oversaw India’s transition to a world beating unit in Test Cricket. Though, he may not have an ICC trophy but under his regime India grew as a formidable white ball side, reaching the semifinals of World Cup in 2019 and staying in the top three in ICC rankings for the most part of his tenure. We will analyze Ravi Shastri tenure as Head Coach.
India under Shastri:
In some past years, most of the boards looked to expand their business in the T20 format. But Ravi Shastri and skipper Virat Kohli focused primarily on Test Cricket, especially winning tests in overseas and results are there to say. The last four years saw an unprecedented success for India in the format, becoming an unbeatable monster in the sub-continent and the Caribbean and a force to reckon everywhere else. Under Shastri, India won series in Sri Lanka, West Indies, Australia (twice) and have a 2-1 series lead in England. In addition to this, India also topped the table in the first edition of World Test Championship, where they eventually finished as runners up.
It was not just the wins but the manner in which they won several of these assignments’ underscores India’s dominance. Against a full-strength Australia team in 2020/21, they came from behind a pounding in the opening Test to win the series 2-1 with several of their first-choice players unavailable at various points down the line. At home, India won 12 of the 15 Tests with a solitary defeat, winning all six series in this period.
Brilliant bowling attack:
The biggest imprint that Shastri has left on this team is the emergence of an all-round bowling attack capable of winning Tests in any conditions, inarguably the greatest India had at point of time in their history. Under Shastri and bowling coach Bharat Arun, the pace attack transformed to an unbeatable unit both home and away. Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav all turned their career around and enjoyed the most productive phase of their career under Shastri. Ishant stepped from a holding bowler to the pace spearhead while Shami enjoyed a largely injury free spell in the second half of his career.
Before Shastri as a coach:
After Shastri as coach:
The pacers were not just at the forefront of India’s overseas wins but also led the charge in home Tests. In his first home Test in charge, India’s seamers picked all 17 Sri Lankan wickets to fall – the first time Indian spinners failed to pick a wicket in a home Test.
The pace attack was shaping up well, but Shastri understood the value of a world class spinner in the ranks, especially in the second innings on tracks that would wear down. Ashwin, who up until then had question marks over his legacy on whether he could perform well in SENA countries, turned it around under Shastri.
Ashwin in SENA tests:
Unlike in the bowling department, the success in batting department was slightly of a lower note. The most notable being Kohli’s finest phase as an overseas batsman came in 2018 and Rohit Sharma finding a second chance in his Test career as an opening batter. Ravindra Jadeja realized his potential with the bat in this period which saw him moving up the order towards the fag end of Shastri’s coaching tenure. However, there were batsmen who found the going tough in this period. Ajinkya Rahane and Murali Vijay were two players whose career nosedived in the Shastri era. And barring one outstanding tour to Australia in 2018/19 summer, Pujara also had a less fertile period under Shastri.
Shastri’s parting words were “When I took this job, I said in my mind I want to make a difference and I think I have. Sometimes in life, it’s not all about what you accomplish, it’s what you overcome.”
Shastri has left this Indian team at a higher level than they were in not just when he came onboard in 2017 but under any previous time in the history. A difference he did make. Ravi Shastri actually made a difference in his tenure as Head Coach.