Mumbai: The next six months for Team India are going to be extremely important. After the home series against West Indies, India will play a five-match Test series in Australia in December, followed by the tri-series with England being the third team. The Men in Blue will then begin their title defense of the World Cup to be jointly held in New Zealand in February.
Team Director Ravi Shastri said he has started having discussions with the selectors and are zeroing on a pool of 20 players. “You will have to really see by the end of the Test series, who is still fit, who is still fresh enough mentally and that is our role. The main role of the selectors, the coaching staff to see how they juggle it around, so that come February, you have a bunch of boys who are hungry, keen and ready to go,” Shastri said during an interaction with the media at here at the Mumbai Press Club.
Interestingly, Shastri also said he wants to see Suresh Raina back into the Test team in the same time frame. “The more I see him play, he is brilliant to watch. It will be my endevour really to do something that will get him back into the Indian Test team. He is a class act.”
Shastri, who will join the team in Kochi Tuesday minced no words when he said bilateral ODIs should be scrapped thereby echoeing Rahul Dravid’s view. “You have to distribute the three formats. I don’t think there is any need for bilateral T20 cricket and one-off mates. One-day cricket can be reduced. You don’t have to play five-match ODI series. Keep the emphasis on World Cups both in the T20 and in the 50-over format and then let your domestic competitions thrive.”
Coach Duncan Fletcher, whose contract was recently extended till the World Cup received support from Shastri. He said the two share a good rapport and have known each other from their U-25 days. “He is absolutely brilliant. He is a seasoned campaigner. He has over 100 Test matches as a coach for various teams. It is how we use the knowledge that he has in the best possible way and communicate with the players.”
Asked about M.S. Dhoni’s poor record as Test captain, Shastri said the team lacked quality bowlers. “Dhoni is handicapped by experienced bowlers. Give him at least two experienced bowlers and you see the difference. It is the ability to take 20 wickets.” Seen as a favourite of the BCCI presidents over the years, Shastri said he does not care if he is seen as pro-establishment person. “I give a jack. People are allowed to think what they want. It is not going to affect me. Half the things that I have done in my life stand vindicated.”