India vs England: Ravi Shastri urges India’s batsmen to get tough, channel pain of defeat
Ravi Shastri: "Shot selection left a lot to be desired." @Getty

Ravi Shastri, coach of the Indian team, has once again called on the batsmen to overcome any lingering insecurity and tighten up mentally as they head into the final Test match against England at Kia Oval. According to Shastri, who addressed the media in London on Wednesday in his typical forthright manner, the sooner India’s batsmen learned to be more “match aware” in tough situations the better their chances of success overseas.

“You’ve got to get tough, mentally. We’ve run teams close overseas, but now its not about competing — its about completing games,” said Shastri. “The endeavour is to learn, to understand where you made the mistakes, take it head on and try and correct it. The fact of the matter is that you had a chance. The scoreline says 3-1 which means India have lost the series. What the scoreline doesn’t say is India could have been 3-1 or the scoreline could have been 2-2. And my team knows it.

“They would have hurt, and rightly so, after the last game. This is a team that will not throw in the towel. It will compete and not look to be on the first flight home, rest assured. And that’s exactly what we’ll do.”

Virat Kohli’s team has lost the series 1-3 with defeats at Edgbaston, Lord’s and The Ageas Bowl. In each defeat, the common trend was the batsmen either failing to put up runs collectively – Kohli has 544 runs and only Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane have managed 200 – or collapsing once Kohli was dismissed. In Shastri’s estimation, being aware of what the team’s needs were had to be at the core of the batting.

James Anderson Ageas Bowl
India’s batting has regularly struggled to click as a unit. @Getty

“Well you need the top order to start and if you see, no team has got such starts. Its been a challenge and its about overcoming those challenges, about believing in yourself and your ability and hoping for some luck on the way.

“Shot selection left a lot to be desired. We blew away a very good position straight away after tea on day two [at Southampton],” he said. “That’s an area you can tighten. Being more aware of what the team needs, being more aware of the match situation. That will be a big help. I think that was crucial.”

Asked to elaborate, Shastri said what disappointed him the most was that India’s batsmen did not capitalise on their rare positions of control.

“Its about being aware of being in a good situation and then capitalising, not doing something silly to open the door for the opposition,” he said. “I thought at 180/4 there was a definite chance of a 75-80 run lead and that would have been crucial. Edgbaston could have gone either way … we had our share of luck as well. At one time England were in the driver’s seat, we managed to come back, we were chasing the game there all the time. But this [Southampton] would have hurt more because you were ahead of the game.”

Asked to build on Kohli’s comment about the need to learn how to cross over the finish line under pressure, Shastri replied saying that the importance of feeling pain after defeats should be used as learning to rectify mistakes.

“You’ve got to give credit to Moeen Ali on the last day [at Southampton]. He bowled magnificently. As hard as our guys tried, England were one-up on us there,” he said. “Nothing to take away, because the endeavour of this team is to travel well and to compete and win. If you look at the last three years, we won nine matches overseas and three series. I can’t see any other Indian team in the last 15-20 years who’ve had that kind of run in such a short time. And you’ve had some great players in those series. Its just [about] being tougher mentally. You’ve got to hurt, to lose such matches because that’s when you look within and come out with the right kind of answer. To combat such situations again and get past the finishing line. One day you will, as long as you believe.”