India batting coach Vikram Rathour on Sunday said the players were a bit distracted going into day four of the fourth Test after head coach Ravi Shastri tested positive for COVID-19, but did well to focus with the bat and set England a huge target for victory.
The BCCI medical team had isolated Shastri, bowling coach Bharat Arun, fielding coach R Sridhar, and physiotherapist Nitin Patel as a precautionary measure after the head coach's lateral flow test returned positive on Saturday evening.
"Of course, we are missing them massively. Ravi bhai (Ravi Shastri), B Arun and R Shridar, they have been extremely important part of this set up and they have done extremely well (in) the last five-six years and played a major role in the team doing well,” Rathour said after the end of fourth day's play.
"But this is what it is. That's the fact that they are not here. So, it was in the morning, I think, a bit of a distraction, we had a word, we spoke, (and) decided that we need to focus on what is in hand, which is cricket," said Rathour.
England made a strong start to their pursuit of a daunting 368-run victory target against India in the fourth Test, which appeared delicately poised heading into the fifth and final day at the Oval on Monday. Openers Haseeb Hameed and Rory Burns guided England to 77 for no loss at stumps with the hosts needing 291 runs to go 2-1 up in the five-Test series.
India's number eight batsman Shardul Thakur smashed his second fifty of the match and Rishabh Pant his first of the series to help India post 466, the highest total of the series.
"So, we are here for this series, it is an extremely important series that we are playing and today when we came in the morning, it was an extremely important day for us, to focus on cricket. So, I think the boys did extremely well, to not get distracted," said the India batting coach.
"There was a potential that we can (be) distracted from the situation that happened last night, but a lot of credit goes to the boys, the way they handled themselves and the way we played as a team,” he added.
The batting coach also revealed that Shastri felt a bit of discomfort on Saturday after which the test was conducted.
"I would not know the exact time, but it was last night around 8 in the night. He was having little bit of discomfort yesterday, so the medical team decided to go for a lateral-pro test and it came positive and that is when we heard that he is positive and I think, the close contacts were identified and isolated, so we will wait for the medical team on when they can join back,” he added.