Shastri calls on India’s batsmen to play ‘ugly and dirty’

Nottingham: India coach Ravi Shastri has called on the tourists’ batsmen to show “resolve” even if it means they look “ugly and dirty” at the crease, as they try to fight back against England.

Shastri’s men are 2-0 down in a five-match series heading into the third Test at Trent Bridge starting Saturday after a thumping innings and 159-run defeat at Lord’s last week.

They were dismissed for just 107 and 130, while captain and star batsman Virat Kohli — who made exactly 200 runs in a 31-run loss in the first Test at Edgbaston — was in evident pain from a back injury.

India badly needed some of the defiance that former spin-bowling all-rounder Shastri showed with the bat in a career that yielded 11 Test centuries, including hundreds in the Caribbean against the formidable West Indies pace attacks of the 1980s, as well as scores of 107 and 187 against England at Lord’s and The Oval respectively in 1990.

– ‘Mental resolve’ –
Shastri’s competitive spirit remains intact off the field, with the 56-year-old telling reporters at Trent Bridge on Thursday: “Batsmen from both teams have struggled.

“When the occasion demands, it’s a case of mental resolve, how you put mind over matter and mental discipline will be the key as far as batsmen are concerned going forward in this Test match.”

India had the worst of the conditions at Lord’s, batting under overcast skies and on a pitch freshened by pre-match and in-game rain — an environment made to order for England new-ball duo James Anderson and Stuart Broad.

Shastri, however, added: “Conditions have been tough as you have seen right through this series. But that’s where character and discipline comes into play, the resolve to know where your off stump is, to leave a lot of balls, be prepared to look ugly and dirty and show some grit.”

– Kohli ‘moving better’ –
Shastri said it was vital India did not brood on what had happened at Lord’s as they looked to regain a foothold in the series.

“Just believe in yourself,” he said. “You have been in this position couple of times before and you have responded.

“One thing for sure in this unit, there is no negative bone.

“In spite of what happened in the last Test match, conditions favoured England and that is no excuse whatsoever, it can happen to any side.

“We are here without a negative bone, wanting to play to win, as simple as that.”

As for Kohli’s fitness, Shastri said: “He is feeling much better. You saw him in the nets, he is moving much better and improving by the day.”

Meanwhile Shastri paid tribute to former India captain Ajit Wadekar, whose death aged 77 was announced on Wednesday.

Wadekar led India to their first Test series wins in the West Indies and England, both in 1971, before becoming team manager in the 1990s.

“I’m very sad,” said Shastri, like Wadekar a star of both Mumbai and India cricket.

“On behalf of the whole Indian cricket team, we would like to offer condolences to his family,

“I knew Ajit very well from a very young age, I lived in the same building.

“He was one of our finest captains and a great manager, when it came to man-management skills, and as shrewd as anyone you will ever get as a captain.”

Agence France-Presse