Our fab five pacers can beat Australians in their den, says India coach Shastri

India vs Australia: A tour of Australia brings out the “character” from every player and the Indian team is ready for the challenge, says Ravi Shastri.

Ready to fire: India's pace attack, led by Jasprit Bumrah, is well-equipped to excel in Australia, says Shastri. - GETTY IMAGES

Ravi Shastri has been talking tough to his team. “No let up.” The conditions, as he admits in this chat on Sunday with Sportstar from his room in Sydney, are “tough,” but so is the resolve of the Indian team to make a mark this summer in Australia, one of the hardest cricket countries to tour, especially in the current conditions due to the pandemic.

The expectations from India are huge. “Nothing wrong. It makes us all the more excited to perform. I know it is going to be tough but then the monkey is off our back. Off the back of the captain (Virat Kohli). We beat Australia here the last time (2018) and beat them when they played in India. None from this Australian team has the experience of having beaten India in India. India has lost to Australia at home only once in the last 50 years and that was in 2004,” Shastri emphasises on the history between the two teams.

Shastri firmly dismisses any suggestions regarding the team feeling any pressures. “Where’s the pressure? We have come here and are going to play our natural game. I have told the boys to respect the terrain and the opponents but play fearless cricket. This is my third tour as a coach and I know the conditions well from my days of playing and traveling to Australia as a broadcaster. Not many have done that. I have told the team there is nothing to lose.”

'Challenging'

How is Australia different to other countries? “Ask any international player and he will you that it is different. It is challenging. Toughest used to be the West Indies in the '80s and post that it has been Australia.”

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In Shastri’s opinion, Australia brings out the “character” of every player. “You have to back your self-belief and take the field with a fearless attitude. You can’t be scared of failure. If you do, then you are likely to fail and I am glad this team has no fear of failure. We are prepared and let me remind you that never has cricket, or a cricket team, faced such a situation since the Second World War. We are going through the drills of staying mentally tough and approaching the series by taking one step at a time.”

India, according to the coach, is capable of producing sparkling cricket. “We have a tremendous bowling attack. I know Ishant (Sharma) is not here and his absence will hurt. His absence does make a difference to the fast-bowling department, but then we have the capacity among the young bowlers to deliver. It is for the youth brigade to grab the chance and prove the quality of pace bowling is second to none.”

“We are monitoring both Ishant and Rohit Sharma’s progress at the NCA (National Cricket Academy). We want them here for the Test series, but they can be available only if they are able to recover and reach Australia in good time. Otherwise, the strict quarantine rule will make it difficult for them to play the first Test,” Shastri said.

Ravi Shastri..."I have told the boys to respect the terrain and the opponents but play fearless cricket." - GETTY IMAGES

 

When asked to elaborate on his confidence in the fast bowling department, Shastri observed, “We have a fabulous five – (Jasprit) Bumrah, (Mohammed) Shami, (Mohammed) Siraj, Umesh (Yadav) and Navdeep Saini. Yadav has the experience. Saini is young and fast. Bumrah one of the best in business. Shami is raring to go. Siraj is an exciting prospect. You put up runs on the board and watch these fast bowlers hunt the opposition. They can beat Australia in their own den.”

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What role did Shastri expects from the bowlers?

“It all depends on the surfaces. We begin with pink-ball cricket where we lack experience. We have played just one pink-ball Test (against Bangladesh in Kolkata), but there is a qualitative difference between them and Australia. It is like cheese and chalk. Our boys have not played much of pink-ball in domestic cricket, but I just want them to go and enjoy their game. What matters is that they will be having some match fitness for the white-ball cricket and they now have to show if they have the will to adapt. Gain experience from here because god willing there won’t be a situation like this again. This challenge of the pandemic and quarantine.”

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