T20 World Cup 2021: Why the Shastri factor is crucial for Team India

As Shastri is set to sign off his glorious career at the helm of Team India - often marred by the exaggerated memes on social media about his off-the-field image - the gritty all-rounder will hope for a turnaround after the loss to Pakistan.

From left: Team India head coach Ravi Shastri, batting coach Vikram Rathour, wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant and mentor M.S. Dhoni in a conversation.   -  AP

Mahendra Singh Dhoni's return to India’s dressing room — debuting as a non-playing member — for the T20 World Cup must have put a smile on head coach Ravi Shastri’s face. After all, for much of the seven-year duration - divided into two stints with different designations - Shastri has preferred to remain in the shadow of someone, be it Dhoni or Virat Kohli the leader.

As Shastri is set to sign off his glorious career at the helm of Team India - often marred by the exaggerated memes on social media about his off-the-field image - the gritty all-rounder will hope for a turnaround after the loss to Pakistan.

Shastri has had success with the Test team in overseas assignments but an ICC trophy has been missing in his cabinet. Except the Champions Trophy in 2017, he has been part of India's coaching staff in every ICC event starting with the World Cup in 2015.

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However, in none of his previous attempts, the team has managed to cross the final hurdle. Despite leading the inaugural ICC Test Championship league table, India stumbled against New Zealand in the final earlier this year.

And in the three limited overs’ tournaments where he has been the guiding force, the team has failed to cross the semifinal hurdle.

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India opted to skip training yet again on Thursday. With less than 72 hours remaining for the must-win clash against New Zealand on Sunday, Shastri, the great motivator, needs to step in and inject fire into the boys.

The cricketers who have been under Shastri’s wings admit that he has been as good as anyone else when it comes to helping them with 3 Ts — technique, tactics and temperament.

Shastri has tried his best to downplay the silverware of an ICC trophy while speaking about the achievements of his group. But knowing the fierce personality that he is, he would be keen for a last hurrah with India becoming the T20 World Cup champion.

While underlining the evolution of India’s men in the last five years, even captain Kohli admitted that winning the World Cup is the ultimate goal for him and Shastri. “Winning an ICC tournament will be a wonderful moment for all of us, for him as the coach and for me as captain. It’ll be an amazing achievement and something that we are motivated for and we’ll give everything we have,” Kohli had said last week.

India’s men will be desperate to give their beloved coach a fitting farewell.

India with Ravi Shastri as coaching staff

World Cup 2015: Semifinal                         
World T20 2016: Semifinal                        
World Cup 2019: Semifinal                         
World Test Championship 2021: Final              

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