It was not a surprise when Ravi Shastri was retained as India head coach, a decision many believed was sealed when captain Virat Kohli threw his weight behind the Mumbaikar last week.
The Kapil Dev-led three-member Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC) was entrusted the responsibility of interviewing the five candidates, including the incumbent Shastri, who had applied for the job, but it felt more like a formality rather than a serious process given the state of things.
It was always going to be sailing against the wind for the other applications in the race to get the nod ahead of Shastri. Robin Singh, Lalchand Rajput, Mike Hesson and Tom Moody were the other four, while Phil Simmons withdrew earlier in the day.
Hesson and Moody did fight a valiant battle as they finished second and third respectively, but there was no stopping Shastri from getting another two-year term.
The CAC, also including former India coach Anshuman Gaekwad and ex-women's captain Shanta Rangaswamy, conducted interviews for the post on Friday and unanimously agreed to retain Shastri until the T20 World Cup in India, starting October 2021.
Rediff.com's Harish Kotian presents an analysis
The five parameters to select the Indian coach were as follows:
1. Coaching Philosophy
2. Experience of Coaching
3. Achievements in Coaching
5. Knowledge of Modern Coaching Tools
The three CAC members had to rank each parameter of the respective candidates as Very Good, Good, Average and Poor, and list the marks at the end -- 20 points for each parameter, which accounted for 100 points in the total.
"We kept a system that was very, very simple. After the meeting of nearly 5-6 hours, all three of us had our own markings. We didn't ask either of the two how much marks we were giving and we unanimously decided after doing all the numbers, which took us little bit of time, that Tom Moody is No 3, Mike Hesson is No 2, very intelligent young boy, and No 1 is Ravi Shastri, which you all were expecting," Kapil disclosed.
"They've given us the points system, so out of 100 we had given them marks and there are 4-5 parameters for it. Everybody was given the marks and end of the day we didn't discuss who gave whom how many marks. It was a very close race but I won't tell you how much the difference was; it was very close."
Although Hesson and Moody impressed the CAC members with their detailed presentation and knowledge of Indian cricket and their vision for the future, the Indian team's good showing across formats saw Shastri get the unanimous vote from all three.
"All of them gave the way forward and we weighed it along with the past performances and that swung it in Ravi Shastri's favour," said Rangaswamy.
Shastri, who was appointed in 2017, has enjoyed a good relationship with captain Kohli. Under him, India won a maiden Test series in Australia earlier this year and are ranked number one in Tests. They also reached the semi-finals of the recently-concluded ICC World Cup.
On the ongoing tour of the West Indies, India have won both the T20I and ODI series.
Kohli had also made it clear that he and the team would be happy if Shastri was retained.
"With Ravi bhai all of us have a great camaraderie. Everyone in the team shares mutual respect and we have done really well together as a group. We will definitely be very happy if he continues as the coach," Kohli had said last month, before the team left for the West Indies.
The 57-year-old former India cricketer and commentator also served as India's Director of Cricket from August 2014 to June 2016.
Gaekwad also touched upon why he believed Shastri is the perfect choice in the current scenario, despite the Mumbaikar getting some flak after India's semi-final exit from the World Cup.
"Basically being the current coach, knowing the boys well, knowing the problems well in the team about what needs to be done... I think he is well-versed with the entire system whereas the others were not, they probably had to start. We were trying to find out what could be like in Indian cricket if they were appointed as the head coach. Somebody knows the system and knows the players very well, can communicate well I think he has the advantage," said the former India coach.
When asked what aspects in Shastri's presentation impressed the trio, Kapil replied: "That is confidential. He gave the presentation as to what the team did under him in the last two years and how the team can improve from here; that is the presentation he has given. He also presented where he needs more help from the selectors and from the Board to make this team stronger in the time to come."