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KL Rahul situation: Ravi Shastri doesn't mince his words

February 26, 2023 13:06 IST

IMAGE: Former India coach Ravi Shastri said a break could help the struggling KL Rahul. Photograph: Pankaj Nangia/Getty Images

Former India coach Ravi Shastri is against the idea of picking a vice-captain in a home series as he feels it complicates the selection of the best XI when the deputy team leader is not in form.

Shastri also hinted that Shubman Gill should replace KL Rahul in the remaining two Tests of the Border Gavaskar Trophy against Australia.

There has been a lot of talk around India vice-captain Rahul's prolonged lean patch. The opener has scores of  22, 23, 10, 2, 20, 17 and 1 in his last seven innings.

With the young Gill waiting in the wings despite his stellar run across formats, the pressure is increasing on Rahul.

 

"The team management know his (Rahul's) form, they know his mental state. They know how they should be watching someone like Gill," Shastri said on the ICC Review podcast.

"I always had the belief (to) never appoint a vice-captain for India. I would rather go with by best XI, and if captain has to leave the field, you'd zero in on a player that can take over at the time, simply because you don't need to create complications."

Rahul, who was the designated vice-captain for the first two Tests of the Border Gavaskar Trophy, has retained his place for the final two games but is no longer Rohit Sharma's deputy.

"If vice-captain doesn't perform, someone can take his place; at least the tag is not there. I'm being blunt and brutal, I never like vice-captain in home condition. Overseas, it's different.

"Here, you want prime form, you want someone like Gill, who's red hot. He will challenge. He has to bang that door down and get into the side. Now, he's not the vice-captain, it has to be team management's decision," said Shastri.

The former India all-rounder said there is not dearth of talent in India and a player needs to be consistent to keep his place in team.

“They will have to see form, his state of mind. He's a tremendous player, but talent is only so much. You have to convert that into results and be consistent.

"There's so much talent in India who is knocking the door. It's not just Rahul, there are many in middle-order and bowling lineup as well, there is a lot of dept.”

Shastri said a break can do a world of good for a player who is struggling with form.

“Sometimes a break for the player in those conditions is far better because he can go away work on his game and come back stronger.

"In my tenure, Pujara was dropped- came back with hundreds, KL Rahul was dropped, came back strongly. You can't carry T20 form into Test cricket."

WTC final will be different ball game but India will have psychological edge

India have retained the Border Gavaskar Trophy after taking a 2-0 lead in the four match Test series. Another win will confirm their spot in the WTC final in England, where they are likely to meet Australia again.

Shastri feels although the conditions in England will be different, India will have a psychological edge over their rivals.

"There will be an impact but conditions will be different, Australia's fast bowlers will be back fully fit then there is different ball game.

"But the psychological dent will make India believe that even in those conditions the can upstage Australia hopefully Jasprit Bumrah will be back, Shami is there and Siraj has been bowling beautifully.

"A 4-0 win here will psychologically send a strong signal."

Lack of application and discipline among Australians was unreal

Australian batters have struggled to play Indian spinners. They suffered a dramatic batting collapse in the second Test, losing nine wickets for 52 runs in 90 minutes.

"I think application (has let them down) more than anything else. The lack of belief in their own defence. The lack of application and the lack of discipline was unreal and Australia paid for it big time," Shastri said.

He urged the Australians to go back to basics and spend time in the middle, defending the ball rather than attacking from the get go.

"... go back to the drawing board. If you don't trust your defence, you have no chance because that's when you entertain thoughts of breaking free, much quicker than you normally should. Sometimes you've got to spend some time at the crease, but how are you going to (do it) if you don't trust your defence?

"But I didn't see one Australian batsman (do that). What surprised me was some of their most senior players also came out there and looked to do things out of the ordinary, something they're not used to far quicker than later. And especially in conditions that suit the Indians.

"So I think it's patience, it's application, it's discipline and trusting your defence."

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