Hardik Pandya will be missed: Ravi Shastri
Ravi Shastri monitoring Hardik Pandya. (AFP Image)

India’s pace attack is at its best in a long time, and coach Ravi Shastri is expecting his fast bowlers to carry forward the good work from South Africa and England to Australia. India’s fast bowling stock for the Australia Tests include Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, but despite a strong line-up, Shastri feels India will miss the services of allrounder Hardik Pandya, who continues to recover from a hamstring injury sustained during the Asia Cup.

“One player we’ll really miss is Hardik Pandya, who’s had an injury because he gives that balance to the side as a bowler and a batsman which allows you to play that extra bowler. Now we’ve got to think twice, but hopefully our fast bowlers do well and we don’t miss him that much,” Shastri said during India’s practice session at the GABBA.

Australia are without David Warner and Steve Smith and their fragile batting line-up, evident from the two-Test series against Pakistan in the UAE – promises to make life slightly easier for the Indian bowlers. Shastri reckoned the pitches in Australia will suit his bowlers and provided they can get their act together, it doesn’t matter how weak or strong the batting line-up is.

“They should enjoy bowling on these pitches. These pitches are likes the ones we’ve seen in the past, but it’s important that we stay fit as a unit. It doesn’t matter what line-up you play as long as they’re consistent. In the past, we’ve had one or two bowlers doing well in spells but as a unit bowling for three to five hours, to sustain the intensity and discipline, if that works well, batting line-up doesn’t matter, he said.

A lot has been spoken about how much Australia have mellowed since the ball tampering scandal rocked the team. And while many suggest that a ‘calmer’ and a ‘well-behaved’ Australian outfit may be bad news for the home side, Shastri believes it all boils down to how a team performs on the field.

“I don’t think so. Once you have a sporting culture in you, it will always remain. I have always believed that no team is weak at home,” the India coach said. “We might have three-four players not playing when a team comes to India, but god forbid if anyone says it’s a weak Indian team. You’ll be surprised. Similarly, we are taking nothing for granted. We are going to go out, put our best foot forward and focus on our game over everything else.

“At the end of the day, it’s the cricket that talks. I don’t care if a McGrath or a Warne said something or didn’t say something. They’ve taken wickets. When you’re good at what you do, and if you can do it consistently, it doesn’t matter which side you play for, the player will do well and so will the team.”

Shastri ignored the idea of this series being a make or break one for India. Having endured series defeats earlier this year in South Africa in January and later England in August-September, Kohli’s India do not possess the best of records in Tests overseas, and Shastri stressed on how India need to grab the key moments to record their maiden Test series win on Australian soil.

“It’s about seizing the big moments,” Shastri said. “The scoreline really doesn’t tell you the real story. There were some very tight Test matches and we lost some big moments badly which cost us the series. It could have been just an over in a session over four days which made all the difference, whether it was South Africa or England. So you’ve got to learn from that and see what happens after that.”