Nottingham : Under-fire India coach Ravi Shastri on Thursday called on his struggling batsmen to show more discipline and grit when the third Test against England gets underway at Trent Bridge on Saturday.
He said that despite tough conditions, need of the hour is to show resolve and play gritty cricket.
England lead the five-match series 2-0 after winning the first two Tests in Birmingham and Lord’s. “Conditions have been tough right through this series. But that’s where character and discipline come 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,” said Shastri.
“I don’t think its fair to single out any one player,” he added, when asked about Ajinkya Rahane’s struggles on this tour.
“Batsmen from both teams have struggled. 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 going forward in this Test match”
“Rahane is one of our pillars and he will remain so.”
There is some good news ahead of the must-win Test for India. Skipper Virat Kohli is near full fitness ahead of the game as he batted without any discomfort and also took slip catching.
Jasprit Bumrah, R Ashwin and Hardik Pandya have already been declared fit for the game.
India will be looking to find the optimal combination for the game, and the coach admitted that they had made a mistake going with an extra spinner at Lord’s. “Kohli is feeling much better. You saw him in the nets – he is moving much better and improving by the day.
“In hindsight, it [picking second spinner] 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 second spinner is needed and the ball starts to turn, would we have needed him?
“But in hindsight the way things panned out, the amount it rained, the time we lost, a seamer could have been a better option,” said Shastri.
England are on the cusp of wrapping up the series with victory at Trent Bridge, and the only way India can avoid that is to register only their second win in six overseas Tests in 2018.
Shastri said that the team knows how to do it because they have been in this position before. “Just believe in your self,” he said, when asked what he has told the team post defeat at Lord’s.
“You have been in this position couple of times before and you have responded. There is no reason why. One thing for sure in this unit, there is no negative bone.
“Despite what happened in the last Test match, conditions favoured England but that is no excuse whatsoever. It can happen to any side. We are here without a negative bone and wanting to play to win, as simple as that.”
England have a selection headache at hand with the return of Ben Stokes. Shastri said that India see no problem in why he shouldn’t be playing this game, and rejected the idea that any on-field chatter could be used to rile Stokes up or indeed used against India given their loss in the previous game.
“We focus on cricket. Stokes is a terrific cricketer, and we would like to play against top cricketers. If the courts have cleared him, what’s the reason for him not to play? If I were in England’s position I would have wanted him to play.
“This team is not worried about who winds whom up. It will give you back as good as it gets, as simple as that. It doesn’t matter if the opponent is England, Australia or South Africa.
“We kept it very simple – if it is a vocabulary I understand, I will give it back in that vocabulary, otherwise in the vocabulary I know best,” he said.
Last but not the least, the Indian team paid its respect to late former skipper Ajit Wadekar before practice.
The players and entire support staff observed two minutes of silence. “Very sad. On behalf of the whole Indian cricket team, we would
like to offer condolences to his family. I knew Ajit very well from a very young age. He lived in the same building as I do and all I will say is that he was one of our finest captains and a great manager.
“When it came to man management skills, he was as shrewd as anyone you will ever get as a captain,” said Shastri signed off.