India vs England 2018: Crisis of confidence

There should be a CCTV camera that tracks Ravi Shastri just before he comes to face the media. Does he look at the mirror, slap his face, and shout to himself, “C’mon, Ravi, just go there and blast away!” Is there a background score of frenetic African drum beats streaming in his headphones?

Not really, he doesn’t have to do all that. It sort of comes naturally. As a player, he moved from No. 11 all the way to the top of the batting order—it takes guts and a lot of skill. He had both. He was truly one of those rare sportsmen who squeezed every ounce of talent and more.

Then there is Virat Kohli. More talented than Shastri as a cricketer, but drilled with almost the same drive: of wanting to be the best, to prove others wrong, and an insane ambition that Shastri would appreciate and understand. And then there are the rest. The two at the top are so dominating that the public perception casts the rest in the same light. Kohli’s brash men. Shastri’s fearless boys. Or whatever the ad folk come up with.

So on an overcast day in pretty Nottingham, Shastri boomed away. About how there is “no negative bone in this team”, how his players don’t care “who is winding them up as they can give it as good as they get”, and how they are “here to win”.

You wonder, though, how much of that ‘no self-doubt’ confidence has really percolated through to the players. It would be a mistake to think that the rest of the cast is of similar bent to that of the captain and the head coach.

If anything, the frequent chopping and changing has resulted in cutting down the stature, if not confidence. The positive side is no one can really take his place for granted or is complacent. In other words, insecurity is bred as if it was a performance-enhancing drug.

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