NOTTINGHAM: ‘Play ugly to win’— that’s a popular theory in sport that works well for some teams across disciplines. It demands a lot of grit, application and ability to fight — the few things that have been lacking in India’s game.
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Coach Ravi Shastri, though, believes that his boys will be able to do that once the ball rolls in the third Test at Trent Bridge starting Saturday. “The resolve should be to know where your off- stump is, leave a lot of balls and be prepared to look ugly and dirty by showing some grit,” Shastri said after a practice session here on Thursday. “Conditions have been tough, as you have seen right through this series. But that’s where character and discipline come into play,” the coach added. It has been quite a severe hammering till now but Shastri insists “there are no negative bones in this team”. “We have been in this position a couple of times before and have responded. There is no reason why we can’t do it again,” Shastri said. But the coach stayed true to his pre-series promise of not blaming the conditions for the defeats. “Yes, the conditions favoured England but that is no excuse whatsoever, it can happen to any side. We have come here to win,” the coach thundered. All the Indian batsmen have struggled to deal with the moving ball and when there were specific queries about Ajinkya Rahane’s form, the coach refused to budge. “I don’t think it’s fair to single out any player. Batsmen from both teams have struggled. When the occasion demands, you put mind over matter and mental discipline will be the key as far as batsmen are concerned going forward in this Test match. Rahane is one of our pillars,” Shastri added.
There was an element of honesty when the coach admitted that they made a mistake at Lord’s by playing two spinners. “In hindsight, it was an error. We should have gone, seeing the conditions, with an extra seamer,” Shastri said.
The England media is quite obsessed about the idea of Ben Stokes playing this Test match and Shastri felt that the “terrific cricketer” that the all-rounder is, he should be playing. “If he is cleared by the courts, what’s the reason for him to not play? If I was in England’s position, I would have wanted him to play,” Shastri said.
The coach even said that there would be no extra sledging in offer for Stokes. “This team is not worried about who winds whom up, it will give you back what it gets,” Shastri said.