Indian off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin had recently expressed his disappointment at former India head coach Ravi Shastri for terming chinaman Kuldeep Yadav as the team’s frontline overseas spinner. Ashwin said that he was heartbroken at that point and felt like he was being thrown under the bus.
After Ashwin’s statement, Shastri has now shared his side of the story and revealed why he preferred Kuldeep over the Tamil Nadu spinner in the 2019 Sydney Test. Shastri explained that Kuldeep was bowling really well at that time, and he deserved a place in the playing XI.
Notably, Kuldeep had taken a five-for in Australia’s first innings, which pushed the hosts on backfoot before rain saved them from an embarrassing defeat as the contest was ended in a draw. But Shastri said he has no regrets over what he said about Ashwin as he feels the Chennai-lad improved his game in red-ball cricket after that omission.
“One thing as a coach, let me tell you… my job out there is not to butter everyone’s toast. My job is, without agenda, to state facts and say the way it is. Ashwin didn’t play the Test match in Sydney. Kuldeep played, took a five-for, and bowled brilliantly. So, it was only fair that I give the young kid who is probably playing his first or second Test match overseas…and he bowled magnificently in that Test match. He bowled as well as any spinner overseas in that Test match. So, I said the way he’s bowled here, there’s every chance he could be India’s No.1 [spin] bowler overseas,” said Shastri while speaking on the Indian Express‘ eAdda.
Shastri reckoned his comments made Ashwin work harder and became the much improved bowler which was evident from the way he bowled in 2021 in Australia.
“Now, if that hurts some other player, then I would say good. In hindsight, I’m glad I made that statement and Ashwin has made this statement because if it hurt him and he was upset, I’m glad of the way he went about his job. So, if it upset him, I’m very happy. If it made him do something different, which he did, I’m very happy because the way he was bowling in 2019 and the way he bowled in 2021 in Australia was chalk and cheese. I’ll go for the cheese any day,” he added.
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