Captain Virat Kohli’s Indian team have just handed out a 5-1 beating in an ODI bilateral series to South Africa in their own backyard and are currently the top-ranked team in ICC 50-overs rankings. However, India coach Ravi Shastri says that it is not a time for celebration as the Men in Blue need to work towards the ultimate goal, the 2019 World Cup.
More than the series scoreline against the Proteas, it is the manner in which the Indian team has dismantled the hosts over the course of last two weeks that has made many fans and pundits pronounce India as one of the early favourites for the 2019 World Cup in England. While there is certainly logic to this argument, head coach Ravi Shastri begs to differ.
Ravi Shastri says India is far from ready for 2019 World Cup
Speaking to Times of India on the eve of the dead-rubber 6th ODI at the SuperSport Park in Centurion on Friday, Shastri said that his team “is still work in progress.” Highlighting that India had a lot of scope to improve and work on, Ravi Shastri said,
“We’re far from ready. This is a great win. But there’s a lot of work to do over the next few months.”
After wrapping up IPL 2018, India will head to England
After completing their Indian Premier League (IPL) commitments, the Indian players are set to embark on a tough and long tour of England this summer – the venue for the next year’s World Cup. It is in England where “a picture could begin to emerge,” says Shastri.
In the ODI leg of the current South African sojourn, the team has been lifted by some special performances from the spin duo of Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav, while the top-order has also been generally solid – with captain Virat Kohli scoring a record three hundreds in the series. It is the middle-order where the Indians have struggled against the Proteas bowlers and Shastri is “not at all convinced” with the manner in which the middle-order contributed in these six games.
Ravi Shastri concerned about India’s middle-order
“It’s an area that requires work to be done. The top-order has batted beautifully and our bowlers were phenomenal but the fifth, sixth and the seventh slot in the batting order needs to be worked upon. Once we’re done with this series, we’ll have to sit down and weigh all options once again very carefully,” he said.
There has also been a lot of chatter regarding MS Dhoni’s role in the middle-order, given his diminishing finishing skills. However, Ravi Shastri is absolutely certain and so is the rest of the team management, that Dhoni happens to be a priceless proposition for this team.
India will have to look at the shortfalls in a different light moving forward. Commenting on the issue, Ravi Shastri said,
“I’ll be the first to admit our middle-order batting has looked ordinary. We failed to convert good starts into big totals. So, there are factors we’re looking at. At the same time, there are players back in India who’ve been doing well in domestic cricket. Over the last six months, we had conveyed (to those who are potential India caps) what the team will be looking at, in terms of skills, fitness, challenges etc. Once this tour concludes, it’ll be time to revisit those conversations.”
On Indian bowlers: Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Bumrah
Coming to India’s bowling department, the coach said that he is overjoyed with the way his bowlers have gone about their business on this tour. While the fast bowlers were particularly impressive in the Test series, the wrist spin of Chahal and Yadav has tied South Africa in knots in the ODI series.
“Chahal and Yadav have been brilliant and Boom (Jasprit Bumrah), what can I say about him. It’s been a fantastic effort. As I said, we’ll sit and go through all of this once we’re done here. The most important bit? Look at the middle-order. If we can work on that and improve, there’s no stopping this Indian team,” Ravi Shastri concluded.