Ravi Shastri, who has had a successful stint at the helm of the Indian cricket team over the last one-and-a-half years, has also had a good working relationship with team captain Virat Kohli. The two have spoken of their mutual appreciation for each other in the past and have worked together to instill a sense of aggressive positivity.
On Friday, Shastri was all praise for the way Kohli led his young team on the tours of Australia and Sri Lanka and during the home series against South Africa. “You have to be able to look the opponent in the eye and play hard. If it means you take it to another level, to ‘behave like an Australian’, then so be it,” Shastri said, while sharing his thoughts with senior sports journalist Ayaz Memon during a live webcast of Firstpost Gameplan. “And it’s not just Virat, the whole team has to come together to do this. You play as one, you hunt in packs. There is no ‘I’ in this team, it’s a ‘we’.”
But he did reserve special words of praise for the skipper, who has taken his game to another level with the bat over the last 12 months, with the burden of captaincy appearing to rest easily on his capable shoulders. “Virat Kohli is a quintessential professional. His work ethic is unmatched. You have to see the way he prepares and the way he trains. These performances don’t come overnight. He has put in a lot of practice and hard work. He deserves every bit of the success. He is batting like a champ at the moment,” Shastri said.
However, he warned, in a more ominous tone, the best is still to come from Kohli. “And yet, he has still not peaked. I still think there is still room for improvement. One of the challenges for him would be to get runs in England, which I think he will one day,” Shastri said.
Effusive in his praise about Kohli, Shastri said it was remarkable he managed to retain his composure and hunger despite the big monies to be had in modern cricket. “You ask someone like Virat Kohli whether the money has impacted his game or his desire to succeed, and he will be even more hungry. But you ask someone else with a different mindset and he might be content. The players are more secure today because of money, they can employ people to take care of things and they can focus on their game and train the way they want to,” Shastri said.