Ravi Shastri coached India one last time against Namibia in their 2021 World T20 Super-12 game at Dubai on Monday.
India won the game comfortably as expected but since they were already out of semis contention following New Zealand's win over Afghanistan on Sunday, it wasn't the kind of ending that Shastri would have wanted for himself.
Shastri has always been a controversial figure. Largely because of the fact that he speaks his mind — shall we also mention his overbrimming love of beer here? — and while many objected to his appointment in 2017 after the Champions Trophy final defeat, the truth of the matter is he has done a wonderful job as India head coach.
His records speak for themselves. Under his supervision, the Indian team beat Australia in Australia in Tests on back-to-back occasions; India dominated England in England in the Test series and were leading 2-1 when a Covid-19 scare forced postponement of the final Test earlier this year. India's Test series win in Australia in 2018-19 was their first ever down under. And India hadn't beaten England in England in a Test series since 2007.
Not just that, India reached the semi-finals of the 2019 World Cup. Though they should have won that tournament. Same could be said about the World Test Championship earlier this year where they lost to New Zealand in the final.
India's performance with Shastri at the coaching helm
With Shastri at the coaching helm, India dominated Test and ODI rankings for a very long time. Phew! Fans can see for themselves, how incredibly India have performed since his appointment. It's a shame that he goes out without an ICC trophy, a big injustice by fate.
So, what Shastri leaves behind as his legacy?
Apart from the above-mentioned results, he can be credited with instilling a killer instinct in the Indian team. The way the team fought in Australia after badly losing the first Test in Adelaide in 2020-21 couldn't have been possible without the war-cry of Shastri especially since Virat Kohli wasn't available for the next three Tests on account of his paternity leave.
He gave youngsters confidence that they should play the way they like to play. There were no tinkering or modifying methods — in regard to the players' technique — in his modus operandi. He wanted them to express themselves and express they did.
Shastri backed his players unconditionally. He believed in giving players a long run and the rise of Rishabh Pant couldn't have been possible without Shastri's backing. Fans will remember that at one point it appeared that India had lost Pant for good.
Shastri will turn 60 next year in May. Yes, he made a big contribution as a player back in the day — some fans will remember his role in the Benson and Hedges World Championship of Cricket triumph in Australia in 1985 and the Audi car that he won for his performances, and of course the spin of honour at Melbourne. Yes, he also made an impact as a commentator with his energetic and booming voice. Yuvraj Singh's six consecutive sixes in the 2007 World T20 to the accompaniment of Shastri's commentary are vividly remembered by Indian fans to this day.
But he has made a much greater impact as India head coach, make no mistake.
In that role he has achieved a great many top deeds. The lack of ICC trophies would seem small blemishes over time, defensive though it may sound right now with the 2021 World T20 wounds so fresh.
Be that as it may, Shastri can sleep sound safe in the knowledge that he gave his best and that India did achieve quite a few things they hadn't before in the cricketing arena. He leaves a rich legacy behind. Next India head coach Rahul Dravid has a tough act to follow.