Shastri-Kohli must deliver
A cosy arrangement continues as coach Ravi Shastri’s tenure has been extended for two more years. Team India’s chief coach may have come through the selection process by a narrow margin in marks given under various parameters. But he is the preferred candidate as a view has persisted for some time in Indian cricket that the job is best handled by a former Indian cricketer. This represents a sea change after foreign coaches were the flavour of many seasons as Kapil Dev was replaced by John Wright and then Gary Kirsten, but only after an unhappy arrangement with Greg Chappell who went beyond his brief in trying to change the Indian cricket system itself. With Kirsten, opinion swung back to foreigners being the best as they did not interfere in the selection process and seemed better suited to tend professionally to the process of team preparation.
Shastri was able to personally hit it off with a performing captain who gained power with his team’s success. This came at the expense of Anil Kumble, considered a hard task master and so unpopular. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. Where Kohli and Shastri failed was in the World Cup where huge expectations were belied with India exiting at the semi-final stage itself. The failure lay in the batting. If some of the support staff stay on, then it would suggest the top duo still has the bigger say. As head of the committee, Kapil Dev seeks power to handle all Team India appointments, which is a point to be considered. Thus far, team harmony was thought to be far too important and so the Shastri-Kohli combination was not to be disturbed. Soon enough their big test will come as victory in a multi-team event would be the real defining moment of success. India hasn’t won an ICC event since 2013 in Dhoni’s regime.