Ravi Shastri © Getty Images (File Photo)
Ravi Shastri © Getty Images (File Photo)

India conceded the three-match Test series versus South Africa with the third and final Test yet to be played. Ahead of the inconsequential Test, head coach Ravi Shastri answered critics’ on the much-talked about Ajinkya Rahane omission, and what hurt the Indian cricket team the most in their winless tour so far. He, of course, replied back in his Shastri-like swag.

Rahane, India’s vice-captain in whites, is yet to participate in the South African tour. Despite an average around 70, Rahane missed the first two Tests, and the team management went ahead with Rohit Sharma on “current form.” Similarly, Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s all-round blitz in the series opener didn’t turn the tides in his favour. Ishant Sharma replaced him in the penultimate Test at Centurion. Since all the ‘chopping and changing’ led to a series defeat, Shastri still refrained from taking the blames.

Shastri’s counterattack

If Ajinkya (Rahane) had played the first Test and not done well, you would have asked me the same question about why Rohit (Sharma) hasn’t played. Rohit played, he didn’t do well, so you are asking me why Ajinkya didn’t play.

The same would have happened with the fast bowlers. So you have choices. The team management has discussed what is the best option. They stick by it and they go by it. Overseas, you go on current form, you go on conditions. You see which player can adapt to certain conditions quicker than the other.”

Schoolboy errors

India probably lost the series courtesy few bizarre run-outs in the second Test at Centurion. Cheteshwar Pujara (run-out twice) and Hardik Pandya’s dismissals hurt the most. Shastri agreed that such mistakes are not accepted, and suggested the team from committing ‘schoolboy errors.’

“It hurts a lot. As it is the conditions are very tough, and on top of that, if someone gets run out then you feel bad and there is no doubt of that. You hope that those mistakes don’t happen again because at times they are schoolboy errors.

They have to be rectified. In tough conditions like these, where there is not much between the two teams, you cannot afford to give away wickets like that. Boys have been told that.”

Late arrival?

Indian cricket team had openly claimed that the Sri Lanka home series was a ‘stretched’ affair. Had one of the limited overs leg been curtailed, India would have landed in South Africa few days earlier. Shastri opined that they should have been here ten days prior to their arrival for proper acclimatization of conditions.

“In hindsight I would say another ten days of practice here would have made a difference. But that’s no excuse.Unfortunately the schedule was such that you had matches. But am sure henceforth in the future when itineraries are made that will be taken into account, there is absolutely no doubt about that. You get there couple of weeks earlier and prepare,” Shastri concluded.

The third and final Test will commence from January 24 at Johannesburg.