Australia v India, 4th ODI, Canberra January 19, 2016

Shastri denies claim that Indian batsmen are selfish

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'An opportunity for youngsters to learn' - Shastri

Ravi Shastri, India's team director, has thrown his weight behind his batsmen and has asked the bowlers to learn their lessons. India have scored 309, 308 and 295 in the first three ODIs of the series against Australia, but have failed to defend any of those totals. In particular, Shastri has defended the batsmen against charges of selfishness.

India have so far scored 67, 67 and 60 from overs 31 to 40. These have been the overs when their set batsmen have approached their hundreds. In Perth, Rohit Sharma took 24 balls from 83 at the start of the 31st over to reach his hundred. Similarly in Brisbane, between the 30th and the 40th overs, Rohit took 21 balls to move from 86 to 100. Virat Kohli took 15 balls to score the last 16 runs of his century between the 38th and 43rd overs in Melbourne.

This has reignited a belief held by some Australians that Indian batsmen slow down near a milestone, costing their team crucial runs. Matthew Hayden said so 10 years ago, and it has begun resonating in the Australian media again.

MS Dhoni calmly said "no" when asked if he thought Indian batsmen were milestone-driven, but Shastri had a more colourful answer. "If they were focusing on milestones, Virat Kohli wouldn't have been the fastest to 7000 runs; he would have taken another 100 games. If that was the case, Rohit Sharma would not be having two double hundreds, and a score of 264."

Shastri also said there wasn't much more the batsmen could have done even though they were playing probably a third-choice Australian bowling attack. "I don't think so," Shastri said. "If you look at the skills of those bowlers, there is skill there. You might say inexperience. They have played a lot of cricket, a lot of domestic T20s, a lot of one-days. So the skill factor is very good."

The Indian attack is far more experienced, but a mix of conditions and poor bowling has let them down. Shastri said the bowlers needed to learn fast. "Finishing touch is better bowling, and being more consistent as a bowling unit. As MS mentioned, there were too many easy boundaries. It is not like the batsmen had to earn it, they were given. That should be eliminated. Even if you cut that by 60%, we will have tighter games. Those are the areas. Attention to basics. If we do that right, who knows…"

With the series lost and expectation reduced, Shastri said he wanted the bowlers to show him they had learned their lesson. "What you want to see is the bowlers learning from what has happened in the first three games," he said. "If that happens, that will be the biggest plus irrespective of the result. That is what I said last year when we played cricket in Australia. We might have lost the series 2-0, but deep inside I knew the way the boys played there was only going to be improvement."

Shastri did mention the tough schedule and injuries (one, to Mohammed Shami) as a mitigating factor. "It is a young side, there have been three debutants, we have been plagued by injuries," Shastri said. "No excuses, I am not giving any excuses here, but it is an opportunity for the youngsters to learn. In Australia nothing comes easy. It's one of the hardest places to play. You are playing against the world champions. The fact that you are competing, and they have competed right through this one-day series, is very good.

"We need bench strength, this is one of the toughest tours. And I have been to Australia many many times. I tell you why. Because if you look at the last six days we have been in three time zones. It is not often you go through that. You play in Perth, get on a flight to Brisbane where the time is different, then to Melbourne where the time is different. All in a matter of six days. When you consider all that, I think the boys have done extremely well."

Shastri said he will ask the BCCI to send a 16-member squad for such tours.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Oldtimer01 on January 22, 2016, 3:38 GMT

    I am absolutely appalled and shocked at the number of ignorant people who claim that Tendulkar was selfish. Most of them do not seem to have followed cricket in the 1990' and 2000's, when Tendulkar was a one man army. In the recent 4th ODI, there were 2 centurions and even Rohit made a fast 40 odd. During most of Tendulkar's time, Tendulkar was literally a one man army who was the only to stand up to the opposition bowlers. He usualy received zero support from the others so he would often make centuries and bring India close to victorys door, whereafter he would either run out of partners or the others would be unable to close out the game. Before commeting on cricket forums, pls go and check the match reports of a few ODI's during that era and you will understand what i mean.

  •   Pandiyarajan Sadayandi on January 21, 2016, 15:49 GMT

    I guess there is lack seriousness in the Indian team. Each individual are not taking with serious notes on winning the match and series than individual score. For me it looks more of individual performance that matters to them lot. You start a world cup tournament in Australia in coming weeks and check the performance of Indian unit as batting , bowling and fielding team. You will see definitely the improvement, reason is everyone gets recognized when playing worldcup. that's what happened in last ODI world cup in Australia. P.S this is completely my personal opinion, it may be wrong too and no intention to hurt anybody.

  • GravyMon on January 21, 2016, 15:08 GMT

    India are currently the best they can be, and their performances are consistent with the traditional Indian performance away from home. Shastri may be looking for reasons to explain away the results, but when it comes down to the real nitty gritty, India are Lions at home and lambs on the road. History bears that out.

  • zacky2 on January 21, 2016, 11:52 GMT

    I can recall how Tendulkar played match after match, though completely out of form, to reach his milestone and he never achieved it. there is no room to debate Matthew Hayden's point.

  •   Ayesha Meer on January 21, 2016, 8:37 GMT

    Yes Indian batsmen are not selfish. But middle order really needs improvement, Just because of the middle order the hard work of the top order always goes in vain. Top order which includes dhawan kohli and rohit, they are always playing well and trying to make india win. Indian bowling is already weak and now there are problems with their middle order too. They should bring players like Raina and yuvraj singh in instead of inexperienced new players against a team like australia.

  •   Shaiz Kunhimohammed on January 21, 2016, 5:49 GMT

    It's funny... Shastri dismissed the milestone allegations by quoting more milestones - the irony is strong with this one...

  • Ramya250 on January 20, 2016, 18:08 GMT

    Pathetic performance. Excuses. Excuses and more Excuses

  • Wiseman065 on January 20, 2016, 13:42 GMT

    I don't think Indian bowlers can ever be counted as more experienced than Australians.Between Indian bowlers who have played 100 matches and Aus bowlers with 10 matches,the Aus bowlers are definitely more skilled.So,India's forever inexperienced bowling line up and Aus young but better bowling line up performed equally.Both sides bowlers ended up around 300.Since these are batting pitches,it is batsmen's job to take more responsibility.Only in this match,our top 3 batsmen did their job properly.But in 1st three matches,our top 3 were responsible for losses with lack of aggression till 40 overs.If Aus had to fight to defend 350,I guess we need 370 when we bat first on these pitches.But if pitches were green,scores would have stayed around 250.Anyway,Dhoni must give both Gurkeerat and Manish a chance at 3 and 4 in 5th match.We should atleast know if they should be given chances in next series.

  • Taha_Khan on January 20, 2016, 8:04 GMT

    India's strength is their batting and that too when they r chasing bcoz then they bat more for the team than for personal milestones. i dont understand why dhoni chooses to field first when he wins the toss.

  • irmark on January 20, 2016, 5:36 GMT

    No Sathish, You would struggle to be more wrong, It is not about merely a hundred being on your mind, It is about a hundred being on your mind, and then playing in such a way to maximise your chance of getting the hundred, in such a way that harm's your teams result. Maxwell took singles, and a three that helped Australia's position but left him in a position where he needed 20 runs for his 100 but Australia only needed 16. By scoring 10 runs off the first 3 balls with the 6-4 he 'd leveled the scores, Worst case for Australia is a draw, and 9 balls to score 1 run for the win trying and getting out for a boundary left 8 balls to score 1 run

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