A long, grueling and demanding journey is set to commence with some serious talent looking to script a new legacy in the chronicles of the India-England cricket rivalry. As Virat Kohli and Co set sights on the two-month long tour, featuring series against Ireland and England, Indian cricket team head coach Ravi Shastri explains how the men-in-blue are preparing for the tough challenge.
In an exclusive interview with India TV, coach Shastri has deciphered how Team India has planned for the tour, keeping in mind the five Tests they have to play starting August 1. (Also read: Chahal, Kuldeep raring to go against England)
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Coach Shastri's strategy is that the team must treat every Test match like a home game and the players should adapt to the conditions as soon as possible. The main objective that the coach seeks is for the battle to be engaging.
"We have to take every Test series seriously, especially the home games. In fact, we should treat every series like a home game. We have to adapt accordingly. If the other players can, so can we. Collect 20 wickets, put up 300/400 runs on the board. If we can do that, the battle will be fun," Shastri told India TV during the show 'Cricket Ki Baat'.
Over the past few years, including the tenure of MS Dhoni's leadership, Shastri has noticed that the players are hungry to go out and play, to play on foreign soil and make an impact. They are now comfortable enough to head out and take on any obstacle together. (Also read: Kohli has changed a lot since 2014, says Harbhajan Singh)
Mentioning the tour of South Africa earlier this year in January, Shastri reverberated how the Indian team fought back despite losing the Test series. India succumbed to a 2-1 loss in the three-match Test series against the Proteas, but coach Shastri emphasised on the one Test that India won.
"I feel, that this current team, wants to play abroad. If you saw the South Africa Test series, we lost the first two Tests, but the players had the belief that they could win the last Test match and that's what happened. This current team is like a nucleus, they've been playing together for the past 3 to 4 years and now they have realised, that they can play comfortably anywhere because the bench strength is set. Our bowling department is brilliant, new spinners have come in and we have enough pacers as well. For me personally, I feel that the team wants to go out and play."
India will start their campaign with the limited-over format as the men-in-blue are scheduled to play three T20Is and as many ODIs before they shift their focus to the five-match Test series.
When asked about playing with the white ball before the red, the 56-year-old emphasised on the time his boys have before they take on the ultimate challenge.
"It's pretty good. We have a month's time to prepare and gear up for the Test series." (Also read: We have players to beat England in their own backyard, says Rohit)
Shifting focus to the two T20Is India play against Ireland, it already seems like a contest which has to be over and done with.
However, Shastri has highlighted the fact that the team will take every match seriously. He emphasised on how Team India wants to keep the consistency cycle running.
"One thing I like about this team, they take every match seriously. They respect whoever the opponent is, they want the winning consistency to linger. If you take a look at the past records of India in the last 3/4 years in all formats, it has been good. Be it any format, the Indian team will be present in the top 2 or 3. Consistency endures further on when you have that winning mindset."
India are currently on the top of the ICC Test rankings, though they lost their ODI No.1 rank to England. As far as T20I rankings are concerned, the men-in-blue are ranked third behind Pakistan and Australia.
Talking about the batting friendly wickets in England, the former India captain stated that the Three Lions are a 'terrific' side in home conditions. On the batting-friendly English wickets, the Eoin Morgan-led side are dominating the best of the bowlers at the moment. They recently scored the highest men's ODI total against Australia in the third ODI of the five-match series, which they lead 4-0.
England batsmen have wreaked havoc so far on their home turf and Shastri believes that the clash will ignite an engaging battle to witness. He guarantees that it will be 100 per cent entertaining.
"The tracks are good, England are also a terrific side on home conditions. I think it will be a good battle, cause England are doing well and we have plenty of match-winners in our side. On this tour, 100 per cent entertainment is guaranteed," said the former India captain.
Shastri, who took over as Team India coach last year in July, fears that with a line of series lined-up in the Future Tour Programme (FTP), the players risk suffering from injuries, especially the bowlers. However, Shastri has a plan in mind to deal with such circumstances.
"We will have to maintain our bowlers, there shouldn't be any injuries. My only fear is that there is so much cricket being played, we will have to rotate our bowlers. They have to be fresh and be prepared for the big matches up ahead," concluded Shastri.