The verdict is out and to absolutely no one's surprise, Ravi Shastri has been retained as the head coach of the Indian senior men's cricket team for another two years.
Shastri had been a tear-away favourite to retain his job despite the BCCI not automatically renewing his contract after the conclusion of the ICC World Cup 2019 — only extending it till the conclusion of the current tour of the United States and the Caribbean.
Shastri has enjoyed an excellent relationship with India captain Virat Kohli, which was made all the more clear during the latter's rift with Anil Kumble which led to the Indian spin legend having to step down from the position in 2017, leaving the door open for Shastri to take up the vacated spot.
The former India captain's coaching tenure saw Team India register a historic 2-1 Test series triumph on Australian soil as well as their first-ever ODI series victory on South African soil with a 5-1 hammering of the Proteas.
There have, however, also been questions raised on his coaching abilities after India failed to win the Test campaigns in their tours of South Africa and England, as well as after their semi-final exit in the World Cup.
The Indian team so far been at their dominant best on the tour of the West Indies with 3-0 and 2-0 series victories in the T20Is and ODIs respectively. They next take on the Jason Holder-led side in a two-Test series starting 22 August, which will mark the beginning of their ICC Test Championship campaign.
Shastri's first assignment in his second stint as the Team India coach will be the three-match T20I series against South Africa, which will mark the commencement of India's lengthy home season.
The former all-rounder's first such experience at this level was when he took over as the manager of the Indian team during the 2007 tour of Bangladesh, shortly after India's disastrous first-round exit from the World Cup and then-coach Greg Chappell's subsequent resignation.
He then returned as team director during the 2014 tour of England, taking over from then-coach Duncan Fletcher after the team lost the Test series 1-3. He continued in that role till the end of the 2016 ICC World T20, before Kumble's appointment as head coach.
It wasn't until after the Kohli-Kumble spat that Shastri would finally be appointed as the head coach.
Let us now take a look at the highlights of Shastri's coaching career so far below:
11 July 2017: Days after Kumble tendered his resignation as Team India coach, Shastri was appointed as his successor on 11 July, although his appointment came with its fare share of drama. The CAC back then comprised of Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman. Virender Sehwag and Lance Klusener were among the 10 applicants for the job, as were Moody, Rajput and Simmons. Shastri, however, was a favourite even back then, as Kohli's sense of comfort around him was well known to the public.
6 September 2017: Shastri's first assignment after getting appointed as the coach was the tour of Sri Lanka. The islanders were on the wane after the retirements of their star players, but few had expected the Indian team to dominate the way they did — winning all three Tests, all five ODIs and the lone T20I to complete a 9-0 whitewash across formats!
22 January 2018: There had been a lot of hype surrounding India's tour of South Africa, the first of the three big overseas tours that would become important milestones for the Indian team. Despite Jasprit Bumrah shining after being fast-tracked into the Test side, and skipper Kohli scoring a fighting 153 at Centurion, India lost the first two Tests to surrender the three-Test series, prompting Shastri to criticise the team for 'schoolboy errors'. Kohli and Shastri, though, would save some face later with a consolation win in the Johannesburg Test, followed by a 5-1 mauling of the Proteas in the one-dayers.
13 September 2018: After the 2-1 Test series defeat, India's reputation as a travelling side took another nasty blow in the tour of England when they suffered a 4-1 loss to the Joe Root-led hosts in the Test series. Despite the series being more competitive than what the series scoreline suggested, Shastri was in for plenty of flak, especially as he had earlier claimed that the Kohli and company were a better travelling side than "teams of the last 15-20 years".
12 December 2018: Committee of Administrators (CoA) member Diana Edulji made sensational claims against Shastri last December, at a time when the Indian team was touring Australia. The former captain of the India women's cricket team claimed that Kumble was made to look like the villain during his tumultuous reign as the coach and that rules were broken in Shastri's appointment. Edulji's comments came in response to the selection process of the India women's team coach, the role of which went to WV Raman.
7 January 2019: After the Test series defeats in South Africa and England, the tour of Australia was something of a balm for Shastri as Kohli's men went on to register a historic 2-1 series triumph over Tim Paine and Co — their first-ever Test series victory on Australian soil. Shastri, who had earlier passed a memorable anatomical remark after India's thrilling victory in the Adelaide Test, made a strong statement directed at the team's critics at the end of the series, "saying this team doesn't fire blanks".
12 June 2019: A BCCI official had earlier made it clear that Shastri's contract as Team India coach would not be automatically renewed at the end of the ICC World Cup, the news of which was made in March even before the Indian Premier League began. However, Shastri's contract, as well as those of his support staff, was given a 45-day extension on 12 June, when the Indian team was two matches into their World Cup campaign. The extension meant Shastri was to stay as India coach regardless of the outcome of the official selection process until the end of India's tour of West Indies.
12 July 2019: India entered the 2019 ICC World Cup as strong favourites to reach the final alongside England. Kohli's men lived up to that billing when they topped the 10-team group at the end of the league stage of the mega-event. However, all the positivity surrounding India's strong performances in the group stages evaporated after the 'Men in Blue' suffered a defeat at the hands of New Zealand in the semi-final at Manchester, a match spread over a course of two days that saw the famed Indian top-order collapse like a pack of cards. The semi-final exit was followed by the CoA proposing a meeting with Kohli and Shastri to review India's World Cup campaign.
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