India’s new coach Ravi Shastri is expected to look for a good working relationship with captain Virat Kohli after a bitter feud saw his predecessor’s tenure in charge of the world’s top Test side cut short.
Shastri, 55, on Tuesday succeeded fellow ex-captain Anil Kumble who resigned from the coach’s post last month, terming his partnership with Kohli as “untenable”.
The cricketer-turned-commentator was always the frontrunner with pundits pointing to his time as India’s team director from 2014-16 and warm relationship with Kohli as points in his favour.
Carrying the epithet of ‘Champion of Champions’ since his stellar showing during India’s world series triumph back in 1985, Shastri has built a reputation of being a top performer on and off the field.
Since his international retirement in 1992 his determination to contribute to the team has only grown.
Coaching is not new to Shastri, who worked on an interim basis with the team during the 2007 Bangladesh tour.
During Shastri’s rein as team director, India won the Test series in Sri Lanka after a gap of 22 years and also thrashed South Africa 3-0 in a home rubber before winning the Asia Cup.
Former captain Sunil Gavaskar backed his one-time teammate and fellow commentator for the top job, saying Shastri was responsible for the team’s turnaround in 2014.
“After India lost in England, the BCCI asked him to come in as a team director… suddenly there was a change in the team’s fortunes over a period of time,” Gavaskar told NDTV.
However Shastri is often accused of toeing the line of the Board of Control for Cricket in India after being appointed in its team of commentators for the inaugural edition of the Indian Premier League in 2008.
Critics have often accused Shastri and batting great Gavaskar of being voices for the BCCI, which is currently being overlooked by a Supreme Court-appointed panel.
Yet there is little doubt over Shastri’s commitment to India since his Test debut against New Zealand at Wellington in 1981.
The former allrounder represented his country in 80 Tests and 150 one-day internationals, accumulating 6,918 runs and taking 280 wickets in both formats during his 11 year career.
He was also known for his flamboyant image during his playing days, attracting media attention for his alleged affairs and late night partying.
Shastri was just 23 when he received an Audi as a man of the series award during the world championship in Australia, making him an overnight star in a cricket-crazy nation.
Life has now come full circle for the once debonair Shastri, who will now have to manage top stars like Kohli in the new Indian set-up.
But Shastri will have big names like batting great Rahul Dravid, the new batting consultant for overseas Tests, and ex-paceman Zaheer Khan, the bowling consultant, for company.