Ravi Shastri did not specify as to who will be standing behind the stumps in the third Test for India against England at Trent Bridge. With Dinesh Karthik’s dismal run with the bat, speculation has been rife about whether Rishabh Pant will be given a go. India are 2-0 down in the five-match series and need to win at Trent Bridge to stay alive. Shastri also spoke on Ajinkya Rahane’s form, Virat Kohli’s fitness and Ben Stokes.
Excerpts from the press conference:
On Ajinkya Rahane’s form:
It’s not fair to single out any one player. Batsmen from both teams struggled and it is a case of mental resolve, how you put mind over matter and mental discipline will be the key. He is one of our pillars, he will remain one of our pillars.
On Indian batsmen dealing with conditions:
Conditions have been tough, but that is where character comes in. The resolve, to know where ur off stump is, to leave a lot of balls to be prepared to look ugly and dirty and show some grit.
On Ben Stokes:
He is a terrific cricketer and we like to play against top cricketers. If it is cleared by courts, what is the reason for him not to play? If I was the coach, I would have played him.
On Virat Kohli’s fitness and Rishabh Pant:
About Rishabh Pant you will know at 11 o’clock day after. Kohli is feeling much better. You saw in the nets, he is moving much better and improving by the day.
What he tells players in this situation:
Just believe in yourself, you have been in this position before and you’ve responded. One thing for sure, in this unit, there is no negative bone in spite of what happened in the last Test. Conditions favoured England but that is no excuse, it can happen to any side. We are here, wanting to play to win, as simple as that.
On chatter between players:
This team (India) is not worried about who winds whom up. It gives as it gets. It doesn’t matter if it is England, Australia or South Africa. If it is a vocabulary I understand, I’ll give it back in it.
On team selection at Lord’s:
In hindsight, it was an error (going for two spinners). Seeing the conditions, we could have gone with an extra seamer. Then again, we didn’t know how much it would rain, whether a match would go into the final day and spinners would have come handy. But in hindsight, the amount of rain, the amount of time we lost, seamer could have been a better option
On Ajit Wadekar:
Very sad, on behalf of the whole Indian cricket team, we would like to offer condolences to his family. I knew Ajit very well from a very young age, lived in the same building as I do. All I say is he was one of our finest captains, a great man manager and as shrewd as anyone will get as a captain.