India are 0-2 down in the ongoing Test series against South Africa and coach Ravi Shastri feels that had Team India arrived at the Rainbow 10 days earlier, it would have made a difference. India were scheduled to play a 2-day warm-up match ahead of the first Test at Cape Town, but the team management cancelled the match on the request of the players and instead opted for a couple of training sessions. India were in the match, their top-order failed to get going in both matches and as a result find themselves in a precarious position. India have nothing but pride to play for the the final Test at Johannesburg.
“In hindsight I would say another 10 days of practice here would have made a difference. But that’s no excuse,” he said, according to Cricbuzz. “Unfortunately the schedule was such that you had matches. But am sure henceforth in the future when itineraries are made that will be taken into account, there is absolutely no doubt about that. You get there couple of weeks earlier and prepare.”
Shastri also revealed that there was a thought of sending Test specialists a bit early to acclimatise. “There was a thought [of sending the Test specialists early] but then you are disjointed. Even as a team you are disjointed, who is going to handle things here? Preparation wise or whatever. Those thoughts can be put in hindsight. But in hindsight I would say the best thing would be, reach there two weeks earlier,” Team India’s head coach said.
The Rahane conundrum
Speaking about Rohit Sharma playing ahead of Ajinkya Rahane, Shastri said, If Ajinkya had played first, and not done well, you would have asked me the same question, why Rohit hasn’t played. Rohit played, he didn’t do well, you are asking me Ajinkya didn’t play. The same would have happened with the fast bowlers. So when you have choices, the team management has discussed what is the best option and they stick by it.”
Why was Bhuvneshwar dropped?
India opted for Ishant Sharma in place of Bhuvneshwar Kumar in the second Test. Shastri expained that since there was swing at the Supersport track, the team management decided to try Ishant, Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah in the same match.
“Chopping and changing overseas is easier. In India, you don’t need to chop and change because you know what the conditions are. Overseas, you go on current form and you go on conditions and you see which player can adapt to certain conditions quicker than the other. What are the overhead conditions for which bowler to play as opposed to what kind of track you will get, where you need a bowler with bounce or you need a bowler with swing. So that’s where the chopping and changing starts my friend,” he told.
Reflecting on the first two Tests, Shastri admits that the bowlers, by picking up 20 wickets gave India a chance, but the batting did not click, which led to India’s downfall.
“Well there is grass on the track and you expect that overseas. We are not here to moan about the tracks because like I said at the start of the game both teams play on the same surface,” Shastri said. “The good thing though is people won’t crib and moan when matches in India get over in two and a half days. Neither will they ask me what kind of track are you playing on. We are not here to complain, we have taken 20 wickets. When you take 20 wickets you have a chance to win. If we had batted better we might have well done that.
“We had our moments in both Test matches and we looked like the No.1 team when we bowled out South Africa for 130 [In Cape Town]. When we closed the gap thanks to Virat’s brilliant innings, and had them 2-down with just 30 runs ahead [in Centurion], we looked like the no.1 team in overseas conditions. Not many teams look half that when they come to India.”