After an "untenable" relationship that led to Anil Kumble's resignation as head coach, Virat Kohli says he's been working with a coach who has said "no" to him more than anyone else in Indian cricket.
To give a clearer picture, Kohli was asked ahead of the team's departure to Australia if Ravi Shastri merely said "yes" to everything Kohli said. The captain responded by saying it was "the most bizarre thing" he had ever heard.
"About saying 'yes' all the time, that is the most bizarre thing I have heard," Kohli said. "I don't think there's anyone who has said no to me more than him in Indian cricket. Honestly, because he's one guy I can speak to and get an honest opinion and he'll tell me something that if it doesn't need to be done, it doesn't need to be done. I've made more changes to my game listening to him than anyone else in the past.
"These are very personal things that happen within the team environment and things that conveniently need to be put out there are put out there, and we're not going to take a banner and say, 'no, this is what happens in the Indian team'. As long as our heart is clear and our intent is right, we just want to keep moving forward."
Reports and a public image of Shastri and Kohli hardly differing on anything took shape following Shastri's appointment as head coach in July last year. At the time, Kumble said he was informed by the BCCI that "the captain had reservations with my style and about my continuing as head coach". Shastri had incidentally been team director just before Kumble was appointed in 2016, despite Shastri also applying for the job.
Soon after Shastri took over as coach in 2017, he first made it clear the captain was going to be the boss. Since then, Kohli and Shastri have shared a harmonious relationship, or at least that's how it seems in public.
When asked about what exactly Shastri brought "to the table strategically or by motivation" as coach, Kohli jumped to his defence, saying he had pulled many players out of shells when they had been in poor form.
"The contribution he has brought to the table even since we started building this team is making people believe that they belong to this level," Kohli said. "I can vouch for it because at a time when we all went through a really difficult time in England in 2014…for me to be able to come out of that shell [and] a lot of other players, like Shikhar [Dhawan] in the 2015 World Cup, he can vouch for that as well…you know to get the best out of players, I think he's been the most important factor.
"Man management is the most important thing at the level at which we play. I think a lot of people think that we don't understand what needs to be done and someone needs to literally tell you where the bat needs to come from, where the head has to be. I think we've learnt those things enough, it's the man management which Ravi bhai has done brilliantly for the time that he's been with the team.
"About the other factors, look, everyone has their opinion on things, and they are absolutely free and entitled to voice their opinion, but we can't stop living life, we cannot stop doing things that we feel are organic. Nothing is made up here, nothing is created or happening in a fake way. Everyone has a different personality, if someone's personality doesn't fall into someone else comfort zone, then that becomes a problem.
"We are definitely not out there wanting to judge anyone, the only criteria for all of us is this batch and that's what we're working towards, because he'll finish one day, I'll finish playing one day, but cricket stays here and Indian cricket stays here. We are just contributing to that and no one's here wanting to dominate anything or gain something out of this.
"We're all given a responsibility and we're doing it to the best of our abilities. The only motive is to take Indian cricket forward. And if someone can say otherwise about the progress of the team, then that's a very personal point of view because we all feel that we're moving in the right direction as a team."