Ravi Shastri had a decorated run as head coach of the Indian cricket team. The former India all-rounder officially took charge in 2017 and then again for a second term post the 2019 World Cup, and under him, India played some of their best cricket. They repeatedly reached the knockouts of ICC events – barring the T20 World Cup 2021 – registered back-to-back Test series wins in Australia and reached the final of the first ever World Test Championship.
There were more positives than negatives in Shastri’s tenure as India coach. Having said that, the fact that India did not win an ICC tournament could probably be looked at as the only major miss of Shastri’s stint. However, the former coach singled out one particular setback, calling it his toughest day at the office.
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“See, the coach is in the firing line; there is no choice. That is the quirk of the job. You have to be ready from day one. I knew there would be no escape routes. The 36 all out was the lowest point. We had nine wickets in hand [overnight] and then we were bundled out for 36. All that had to be done was score to 80-odd more runs [to be in the game]. We were all numb. We were in a state of shock for days. How could that have happened?,” Shastri told The Week in an interview.
India registered their lowest-ever total in Test cricket, during their first-ever Day/Night Test in Australia at the Adelaide Oval. Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins ran through the India batting line-up. But Adelaide was the only blip in what would turn out to be one of India’s greatest Test series of all time as the team picked itself from the ashes and went on to win the series 2-1. It is an achievement that will live with Shastri for the rest of his life.
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“It was not just me. I would be the first to put my hand up and say I was the one responsible, take the brickbats; there is no place to hide. I told the boys to focus on what they could do. The boys were unbelievable. One month after that 36 all out, on January 19, we had won the series. I am still thinking, how did that happen? I promise, as long as I live, people will talk about that series win,” added Shastri.