Ravi Shastri Admits Selection Goof-Up, Asks Batsmen To Show Mental Grit

Ravi Shastri Admits Selection Goof-Up, Asks Batsmen To Show Mental Grit
Team India Head Coach Ravi Shastri speaks during a press conference ahead of the third cricket test match between England and India at Trent Bridge in Nottingham (AFP)

Team India Head Coach Ravi Shastri has admitted mistake of selection goof-ups and asked his batsmen to grind it out and show mental discipline to stand up to England’s swing bowling that has left the visitors 0-2 down in the Test series and looking down and out.

Shastri, who had a long chat with the players before the start of the training session, defended the batsmen on being asked to explain why Ajinkya Rahane, regarded as vital in overseas conditions, was struggling.

“I don’t think it’s fair to single out any player. Batsmen from both teams have struggled”, he said.

"When the occasion demands, it’s a case of mental resolve, how you put mind over matter. Mental discipline will be the key as far as batsmen are concerned in this Test match. He (Rahane) is one of our pillars and he will remain one of our pillars".

“Conditions have been tough as you have seen right through this series. But that’s where character comes into play, discipline comes into play, the resolve to know where your off stump is, leave a lot of balls, be prepared to look ugly and dirty and show some grit”.

However, India batsmen have fared much below par. None other than Virat Kohli in the first Test at Edgbaston has hit a fifty so far. England, besides tormenting India with swing bowling, have had contributions from Skipper Joe Root (80), Jonny Bairstow (70, 93), Sam Curran (63) and Chris Woakes (137 no) with the bat.

India's Virat Kohli during nets at Trent Bridge, Nottingham on August 16, 2018 (Reuters)

Ravi Shastri said India Skipper Virat Kohli, who struggling back stiffness in the Lord’s Test, was on course to playing in the third Test starting at Trent Bridge on Saturday.

Rishabh Pant during nets at v Edgbaston, Birmingham (Reuters)

“Kohli… he is feeling much better. You saw him in the nets, he is moving much better and improving by the day”. And Rishabh Pant making his Test debut? “About Rishabh you will know 11 am day after”.

The technique of Indian batsmen were found out in the first two Tests though Shastri stressed on staying mentally strong despite trailing 0-2.

“Just believe in yourself. You have been in this position couple of times before and you have responded. One thing for sure in this unit, there is no negative bone. In spite of what happened in the last Test, conditions favoured England and that is no excuse whatsoever, it can happen to any side. We are here without a negative bone, wanting to play to win, as simple as that”.

Meanwhile, India will have a fresh headache as all-rounder Ben Stokes, acquitted of affray charges by a Bristol court on Tuesday, is back in the England squad. There is furious debate whether England should welcome Stokes back this soon and England coach Trevor Bayliss was bombared with questions about that.

However, Shastri said: “We focus on cricket. He is a terrific cricketer, we would like to play against top cricketers. If he has been cleared by the courts, what is the reason for him not to play? If I was in England’s position I would have wanted him to play”.

The India Coach admitted picking chinaman bowler, Kuldeep Yadav, ahead of a third paceman at Lord’s was a mistake. Neither spinner Kuldeep or R Ashwin took a wicket, and England leg-spinner Adil Rashid did not bowl.

In hindsight, it was an error. We should have gone, seeing the conditions, with an extra seamer. It might have helped. Then again, you didn’t know how much it would rain, whether a match could go into the final day where just in case a spinner is needed and the ball starts to turn, would we have needed him.

“The way things panned out, the amount it rained, the time we lost, a seamer could have been a better option”.

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