Ravi Shastri rubbishes reports of rift within Indian team
Shastri has said that his respect for Dhoni has risen by a few notches and dismissed any talks of a rift in the dressing room.
Indian team director Ravi Shastri has rubbished reports of the proximity between him and Virat Kohli being the reason behind MS Dhoni's retirement from Test cricket, adding that the former Indian Test captain commands great respect from every member of the squad including the support staff and the administration.
Following the sudden retirement of Dhoni from the longer format of the game after the Boxing Day Test, which ended in a draw, there have been speculations about the rising influence of Kohli and Shastri in the dressing room, resulting in Dhoni losing his powers and therefore deciding to call it a day.
Shastri, in an exclusive interview to ESPNcricinfo, said: “I've heard that trash. And it is just that - trash.
“You guys have no idea of the respect Dhoni commands, not just from Virat but every member of the squad, support staff and administration.”
He also said that the difference between the two sides in the current Test series has been the bowling attack. The Indians have already lost the series, and it remains to be seen if they can salvage some pride by winning the final Test, at Sydney, starting on January 6.
Reiterating his earlier point, where he had told that this team needs some fine-tuning and given a year’s time they would again be among the best in the world, the 52-year-old admitted that India currently have an issue when it comes to bowling sides twice in a Test, but added that he is impressed by the players’ mindset.
"There's hard work ahead no doubt.Primarily, we have to get or develop bowlers who can get 20 wickets regularly. But I am extremely bullish. The most important thing is we have got an aggressive mindset. Let's talk 12-15 months down the road," he said.
Had no idea about the decision coming
Shastri admitted that everyone was “stumped” by Dhoni’s decision to give up Test cricket. He also applauded Dhoni for being brave in taking such a decision, despite being close to his 100th Test match.
"None. It came like a bolt from the blue. Not till after he returned from the post-match presentation did I come to know when he had a quick word with me, then the players. I understand he had not even spoken to his family about it.
"It was an unexpected decision no doubt, but a courageous one. In my esteem Dhoni has gone up by miles. He hasn't waited to complete 100 Tests and all such pointless statistical stuff. He didn't want any farewell fanfare. That shows his character. He's different and quite remarkable," the former India captain said.
On how the Indian team will adapt to Kohli as captain, whose aggressive mindset is in straight contrast to Dhoni’s cool demeanour, he said: “In my days, I played under several captains, none of whom were alike. Captains have their own personalities and the best ones make players adapt to their thinking and methods.”
No issues between Kohli and Dhawan
He also said that the talks of there being a clash between Virat Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan was all nonsense and the two didn’t exchange a word between them.
“Some from your tribe should be writing screenplays for films. It is utter nonsense. Not a word was exchanged between the two. Let me add that Kohli has been part of the team for almost five years now. The boys are used to him. Several of them have played with him since their Under-19 days,” he said.
Replying to queries on whether Kohli has been a bit too aggressive with his statements, Shastri said that the 26-year-old wears his heart on his sleeve and there is nothing wrong about it.
“That's his personality. He is aggressive, passionate and wears his heart on his sleeve. But he's also prepared to walk the talk. Remember also, he's only 26 and still getting used to captaincy. With a little luck, the scoreline could well have been different. This is a young team that has acquitted itself very creditably," he said.