The Adelaide Test is over just like that with an embarrassing eight-wicket defeat for India. From being in a dominant position at the end of Day 2, India’s world came crashing down this past Saturday as the team found itself reeling surreally at 36/9 — in what was their worst-ever batting performance — and Mohammed Shami unable to bat on account of a blow on his forearm that hours later ruled him out of the remainder of the series.
A witch-hunt against the players has already begun as per the norm in Indian cricket, however if truth be told, these batting performances don’t happen because there is something wrong with players; they just happen and serve as a reminder as to what can happen on a bad day.
Seven times -- including India's performance -- in this century teams have failed to reach even 50 in an innings. So, it happens once in a while!
Fans need to stick with the players as they need support and sympathy more than ever before. However, one person whose role needs to be looked at is team head coach Ravi Shastri.
India’s fielding has been all over the place right from the start of the tour and fans deserve to know why it hasn’t improved even after several weeks in Australia now. What has Shastri and his staff done to address the issue?
Why opener Prithvi Shaw was chosen to play despite poor form and more than poor form, why the technical glitch in his batting — plenty of gap between his bat and pad to incoming deliveries leading to the rattling of his stumps almost every time he goes out to bat — that first came to our attention during the Indian Premier League in the UAE hasn’t been fixed yet. Why he keeps getting out in similar fashion? Why Shastri could not work with him just like Justin Langer worked with Joe Burns for the benefit of the latter and eventually the Australian team?
The idea behind playing warm-ups is to assess the form of players so how could Shubman Gill’s much better performances in those two games be ignored?
Apart from having a drink – his favourite pastime for decades now -- with Ian Chappell and giving away some important information on the playing XI ahead of the pink-ball Test, what else has Shastri done on this tour so far?
Even in the last three years he has not done anything of significance other than unnecessarily play up Shaw’s credentials.
He also needs to explain why the Rohit Sharma controversy erupted the way it did. Frankly speaking, Shastri has very little success to speak of ever since taking over after an acrimonious exit for Anil Kumble in 2017 following the Champions Trophy final defeat to Pakistan. Yes, India won in Australia last time around but they have also suffered Test series defeats in England, South Africa and New Zealand — the other important foreign tours for India — during Shastri’s reign.
It’s high time the BCCI looked at his role. Good and bad performances are part of the game and fans should keep patience with players especially when something like Adelaide happens but bad management is something that can’t be tolerated for long. Shastri has a lot of questions to answer but having in mind his evasive behaviour in the past, it’s highly unlikely there will be any honest assessment or improvement from him. If he can’t contribute in any significant way, India might as well start going into their matches without him.
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