Mumbai: India’s team director Ravi Shastri on Wednesday called on the side’s under-performing batsmen to raise their game in the ICC World T20 semifinal against West Indies here, saying the hosts can’t rely on one or two individuals at this stage of the tournament. (India vs West Indies, World T20 Semifinal: Virat Kohli or Chris Gayle, Who Will Come up Trumps?)
Shastri hoped that batsmen such as Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan and Suresh Raina, after an indifferent run, step up and show their mettle at the Wankhede Stadium on Thursday. (World T20: “Heard of Chris Gayle?” West Indies’ response to the Virat factor)
“I still believe we have played only 70 per cent to our abilities in this tournament. There are still areas where we can improve. Let’s hope it happens tomorrow,” Shastri said at the match-eve media conference. (India vs West Indies, World T20 Semis: Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s Men Have The Momentum)
“In a semifinal you got to get your A game in. You can’t depend on one or two players, you need 6-7 players to step up to the plate. It has not happened so far in this tournament. Let’s hope it happens tomorrow.”
The former captain was referring to the misfiring top-order, barring Virat Kohli, who has been outstanding.
Kohli – ‘Outstanding, unbelievable’
Effusive in his praise for Kohli’s unbeaten 82 against Australia in the quarterfinal at Mohali, Shastri said the Delhi stalwart turned around his fortunes through sheer hard work after an indifferent show in England in 2014.
“It was outstanding innings, one of the best you will ever see in T20 cricket, considering the occasion, the pressure. The kind of crickting shots he played was unbelievable.
“I had absolutely no doubt when I took on the job, seeing the form he was in, knowing fully well that he will be back on track. It was just case of mind over matter. You got to give him the credit for really believing that he can be right up there with the best and putting in the hard yards.
“No one trains harder than Virat. If he’s as successful as he has been over the last 18 months, credit must be given to him for putting that much of hard work and believing in his ability.”
‘Yuvraj Singh will be missed’
Shastri said the team will miss injured Yuvraj Singh, both as a batsman and bowler, and will have a good look at the net session today before deciding on who will be his replacement in the playing XI.
“It will have an impact. He’s had his moment and I thought his three overs were brilliant in the last game (against Australia) that really put the checks and brakes on the scoring and allowed us to come back into the contest.
“After the first four overs (when Australia had raced to 53 for no loss) it was a no contest. At one stage it looked that (target for India would be) 200 or 200-plus which would have been very difficult to chase on that pitch.
Shastri called Yuvraj’s injury unfortunate. “He will be missed. It was an unfortunate injury which happened during the game when he took off for a run. I believe it’s a minor tear in the ankle. We will miss him.
“We have not decided (on who will replace Yuvraj). Manish (Pandey) joined the party yesterday We will take a good look at everything in the nets and look at our best options for tomorrow’s game and, yes, we have to keep those overs (by Yuvraj) in mind.”
The Indians had been granted the replacement (Manish Pandey) for Yuvraj by the ICC’s technical committee.
‘West Indies a Dangerous Side’
Shastri pointed out that he had maintained before the tournament that the Windies, led by Darren Sammy and with Chris Gayle, are a dangerous side.
“I have said this at the beginning. They are probably one of the most dangerous sides in this format. They have got explosive players, match-winners. We know what we are up against and we are up and ready as well. This is not a knock-out game for us. The knock-out was the last game. That was the quarter final. This is the semifinal.”
To Gayle’s claims of rising to the big occasion, Shastri shot back, “Bring it on. All our bowlers will target him (Gayle).”
“Bangalore was a good surface, Mohali was good and this (Wankhede track) has always been good. Repeating what they have been doing keeping things simple,” he retorted when asked what the Indian team should do on the Wankhede track which is known to favour batsmen.
Shastri said the Indian team’s philosophy in the tournament was to take it one step at a time, a point he repeated when asked what his plans were post the World T20 when he is to be relieved of his duties.
“At the end of the day you want to be consistent. You got to take it one game at a time. That has been our approach. With every T20 game we played we knew a World Cup was coming. We wanted to respect the format and treat every game as a knockout. It does not matter who the opposition is.
“Jaane do yaar (Leave it my friend). Semifinal hai aur tum aage soch rahe ho (It’s a semifinal and you are thinking ahead). Tomorrow is the semifinal. Live in the moment and in the present.”