4:56 am - Saturday November 7, 2015

Ravi Shastri, a True All-Rounder On and Off the Field

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Ravi Shastri is a true all-rounder. He can wear multiple hats with consummate ease. The former Indian all-rounder, deputy to numerous skippers, stop-gap Indian team coach, a highly-reputed commentator, an unofficial players’ spokesman and now, the team director in times of despair.

After Team India’s abysmal performance in the five-Test series, the Indian Board has turned to Ravi Shastri to take charge of the team in the upcoming One-Day International series in England, allowing him to call the shots in place of the under-pressure coach Duncan Fletcher.

Long after his playing days, Shastri continues to Board of Control for Cricket in India’s Man Friday of sorts. After finishing with a Test batting average of 35.79 and 151 wickets to his name, Shastri remains connected to the game. (Duncan Fletcher may quit before India-West Indies series: BCCI sources)

With an authoritative voice and a flair for commentary, some of Shastri’s best partnerships have come behind the microphone with another Indian cricket legend Sunil Gavaskar and Pakistan fast bowler Wasim Akram. The Shaz & Waz show was extremely popular on ESPN-STAR Sports. (India will lose four-nil in Australia: Glenn McGrath to NDTV)

A flamboyant all-rounder during his playing days, Shastri also proved to be an astute media person. In 2001 in South Africa, when controversial match referee Mike Denness had banned six Indian players and accused Sachin Tendulkar of ball tampering, an infuriated Shastri took the bull by its horns. (Ravi Shastri will re-energise Team India: Sanjay Patel)

During a press conference, Shastri questioned Denness on his decision in a clear show of solidarity with Sourav Ganguly’s embattled team.

In 2007, Shastri stepped in as stop-gap coach when India toured Bangladesh. It was not the best of times for the national side. Greg Chappell had just quit as coach after India’s unceremonious first-round exit in the 2007 World Cup. Shastri did well to keep the team together and the fact that Bangladesh were the underdogs, helped matters.

The Board has used Shastri’s services in various capacities. He has been on the Indian Premier League’s Governing Council and was one of Lalit Modi’s closest allies till things went wrong for the former IPL Commissioner. Shastri has been on BCCI rolls as a TV commentator and has always filled in times of crisis.

Unlike 2007, Shastri will have a more challenging role to play. India’s morale has hit rock bottom after losing a hattrick of Test matches against England. As team director, Shastri will enjoy lot of power as part of the team think-tank, but power won’t win matches. If he can lift the team’s spirit, make the players believe in their abilities once again and inject a sense of urgency to perform for the country, Shastri would have done his job.

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