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Where are all the experts now, thunders Ravi Shastri !

After suffering a defeat in the first two Tests against South Africa, India have bounced back strongly in the overseas tour, beating their opponents in the dangerous Wanderers wicket in the third Test, and then going on to win the first ODI by 6 wickets. India coach Ravi Shastri, in an interview to Times of India, questioned the critics and explained the reasons behind the decisions made by the team management that were questioned earlier.

India defeated South Africa in the first ODI in Durban on Friday by 5 wickets with skipper Virat Kohli scoring his 33rd ODI century and Rahane playing a crucial 78-run innings.

Though the Test series was lost in spite of the final Test match win, India has truly comeback strong, registering the inaugural ODI win of the 6 match bilateral series. And the critics who questioned Shastri’s decisions, were now rightly replied back by the man himself. In an interview by Times of India, the Indian head coach hit the critic one ball at a time.
On opting Rohit Sharma ahead of Ajinkya Rahane, this is what Shastri had to say, “Right from the beginning, there was no doubt in the mind of the team management that Rohit was the batsman in form while Ajinkya was struggling, not just on the field but in the nets too. Rohit was averaging more than 200 in Tests and had scored around 1200-odd runs in ODIs. So, what does the team tell him? Your runs don't matter because that's how it works? Performances count and that makes this whole talking point a no-brainer. We all know what Ajinkya is capable of, but before coming here, he was averaging about 30 all through 2017.” 

Jasprit Bumrah earned his first Test cap against the Proteas in the last Test Series. Debuting in such a crucial Test series on foreign soil was the point of argument of many. The Indian head coach said, “It wasn't an overnight decision. Close to six months ago, we began work on this. Bumrah was our surprise package coming here and did it work? Of course. Tell me the last time a bowler has delivered so confidently on debut and has been learning so quickly. He was among the most consistent. In Cape Town, he bowled us back into the Test from where we could have won. In Johannesburg, he was  simply intimidating.”                                                                                                                                               

Shastri rebuked, “People want to say a lot of things, but where are these people now?

Here’s what he had to say on Bhuvaneshwar Kumar missing the Centurion, “Watch India's  first innings  at Centurion. Quinton de Kock was keeping  up front for Vernon Philander. That's how slow the wicket was. Bringing in Ishant made all the difference.  He has been phenomenal. We knew Bhuvi had to be played at the Wanderers and in fact, given the Centurion  wicket - it had nothing for  pace bowlers, leave alone swing - we knew Bhuvi  would  be fresh  for the third Test. Ishant bowled beautifully in the  first innings at Centurion, he got us both, AB & Faf and what a  tireless effort it's   been from him. When did Ishant last bowl  like this series?  Not even Perth.
As for now, the Test series   was all  about the prospect  of what  could have been if few decisions were altered. About all the chopping and changing, this  is what  Ravi  Shastri had to say, “That's why I'm saying, where are the experts  now?  What  chopping  and changing?  Sometime during the  Centurion Test, Ajinkya  was getting back into his  rhythm. He was knocking well in the nets and Rohit was struggling, so we  decided to do whatever looked better at that point in time and Ajinkya  was in the eleven. And he scored at the Wanderers. Dropping  or picking Bhuvi was not  chopping  or changing. It was a decision  taken according  to the pitch and the conditions. It's simple, had we scored more runs in the second innings at Cape Town and the second  innings at Centurion, this whole series would've  been different.

The interview didn’t entirely cool down the Indian fan base, but to some extent brought issues of arrogance of  Shastri not accepting his faults and trying to justify his choices. Many still believe, his mistakes cost India the series. 

Written by : Anuran Sadhu