So, the inevitable has happened and Ravi Shastri has been appointed as the head coach of the Indian cricket team in what could be a major turning point for Indian cricket. Even though the team has done well in the recent past, losses against Sri Lanka and Pakistan in the Champions Trophy exposed the weaknesses. The team is scheduled to tour Sri Lanka, South Africa, England and Australia in the next two years and will also take part in the 2019 ODI World Cup. Needless to say, Ravi Shastri has his work cut out. Here are his five biggest challenges as the head coach of the Indian cricket team:
1. Identifying the roles of Yuvraj Singh and MS Dhoni
Yuvraj Singh made a dramatic comeback to the Indian team earlier this year scoring a sizzling hundred against England. He followed it with yet another brilliant knock in the T20 series against the same opposition but since then, has struggled with consistency. With Dinesh Karthik scoring a half-century in the last match and Rishabh Pant continuously pushing for a place in the playing XI, Shastri needs to identify Yuvraj’s role in the side.
For over a decade Mahendra Singh Dhoni has been the centre around which this new age Indian cricket team was built. And, it’s heartbreaking to see him struggle for runs now. Shastri’s biggest challenge will be to decide on Dhoni’s future. Practically thinking, it would be difficult for the side to include both Dhoni and Yuvraj for the 2019 World Cup so one of them will have to make way for the other.
2. Improving overseas performance
Virat Kohli and Co enjoyed a phenomenal home season under Anil Kumble defeating New Zealand, Bangladesh, England and Australia to clinch four back to back Test series. However, things are not to going to be as easy for Shastri. The Indian team is scheduled to play three overseas series in the next two years and the new coach will be under a lot of pressure to deliver.
3. Handling Virat Kohli
While most people would be thinking that it would be an easy ride given the fact that Ravi Shastri was brought back due to his equation with Virat Kohli, handling the Indian skipper will be a tough task for the former captain. Kohli welcomed Anil Kumble with a heart-warming tweet last year and yet, both the players fell apart. So, it will be interesting to see whether Shastri is able to maintain his equation with the 28-year-old batsman.
4. Solving the puzzle of spinners
When Ravi Shastri was the director of the Indian team, Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja emerged as the natural leaders of the bowling attack. However, their failure to pick wickets in the ICC Champions Trophy forced Kohli to bring in Kuldeep Yadav for the West Indies series. Yuzvendra Chahal too has taken giant strides in the last couple of years and did well for India in his last outing.
5. Preparing for 2019 ODI World Cup
The ultimate task for Ravi Shastri would be to get the side ready for the 2019 ODI World Cup. With almost two years left for the mega event, he needs to find the right combination. The tournament will be played in England and Indian team’s good performance in the recently concluded Champions Trophy will only boost the confidence of the side.