After the curtain came down on his four-year stint coaching India, Ravi Shastri said Virat Kohli has been one of the great ambassadors for the game, especially in red-ball cricket.
Fresh from seeing his men finish their ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021 campaign with a nine-wicket win over Namibia, the outgoing coach – who was first involved with the squad as a director in 2014 – praised his team’s all-conquering past despite a disappointing end to their time in the UAE. When asked about the Indian team having each other’s back, Shastri in the virtual press conference on Monday said: “We actively worked towards it. We wanted trust in that dressing room. That’s the only way you can get each other’s back. We needed communication. We wanted no finger pointing at each other. We needed the word I to be thrown into the dustbin and the word we coming in. And we created a culture that had to be obeyed and followed.”
“With Virat leading the way, he’s been one of the great ambassadors for the games, especially when you look at red ball cricket, the way he’s embraced it. And it’s allowed other players on the team to follow suit. You’ve got to give credit where it’s due.”
“So it’s a team culture, which was impressed upon the team to follow, and they followed it to the hilt. They played fearless cricket round the globe,” he added.
Ravi Shastri also said that everything including bilateral series and tournaments is important for him. He said: “For me, everything is important. If you’re playing a big tournament, a big series, you play to win. So it’s not happened this time, but it will happen another time for this team. They’re far too talented not to get something going or get something and a big trophy in the hands soon, just like they did if Australia twice. Up in England now, the way they played white ball cricket in bilateral series. So somewhere down the line, things should go their way. The rub of the grain should go their way.”
New Zealand’s victory over Afghanistan on Sunday secured the Black Caps’ progression and ended India’s hopes of making the semi-finals before Monday’s clash against Namibia but they remained resolutely professional in their performance against the Eagles.
Spinners Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin took three wickets apiece to limit Namibia to 132 for eight before half-centuries from openers Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul helped their side cruise home, not only sending Shastri off with a win but also Virat Kohli in his final game as T20 captain.