“It has been a problem for us in the last year or so. In spite of us doing well…there have been days when we just cleaned up the tail, but on other days there has been some resistance. We have had a chat on that, how to look into bowling at the tail. Either at times, we are being over-aggressive or at times are we being too defensive. We have had a chat on that and we will look to address it in a different manner,” said Shastri.
Shastri also urged R Ashwin to reassess his approach to batting. “He is a world-class bowler, there is absolutely no doubt about it. But we have to make sure that we pick the right sides for the right conditions and see what a player can bring to the table. He has bowled well over the years and if anything, he will be disappointed with the way he has batted. He would want to improve on his batting in time to come,” said Shastri.
Shastri said the Wellington setback would enable this Indian side that has been on a winning spree to open up further.
“We are here not to give any excuses. We were outplayed in the first Test. But I always believe when you are on a run like we were, a shake-up like that is good because it opens your mindset. When you are on the road winning all the time, or you have not tasted defeat, you can have a closed mindset, a fixed mindset.
“Here once you have seen what has happened, which is good, there are opportunities to learn. You know what strategies New Zealand are employing. Mentally now, you are prepared to expect and you have your plans, how you are going to counter that. It’s a good lesson,” he said.
However, Shastri said the team has not pushed the panic button. “If you look at that, we have had a great run in the Test arena. We played eight and won seven. One loss, there is absolutely no need to panic, neither is anyone looking in that direction,” he said.
The selection of Rishabh Pant ahead of Wriddhiman Saha, who had two wonderful series at home against SA and Bangladesh, for the Wellington Test has raised a few eyebrows. But Shastri explained the logic.
“We went for Saha in India because there would be a lot of spin, and on turning tracks where bounce could be uneven, you need an experienced keeper and Saha is, to be honest, one of the best around. But when you come here, there is not much of spin bowling. Emphasis is on fast bowling and then the batting becomes a key factor and the fact that he (Pant) is a left-hander, an aggressive batsman lower down the order, that tilts the scales in his favour here,” he said.
Shastri urged Indian pacers to stick to their plans and not get carried away by the reports about the nature of Hagley Oval pitch, touted to have good pace and carry.
“It is very important. On a patta (flat) wicket, batsmen must think whether to hit or to defend. Similarly here, they have to strike the right balance and be patient, which Southee and Boult showed you. What New Zealand showed in the first game, do exactly that. Be patient, get more balls in the right areas, create the pressure and then take it from there. It is very easy to get excited and then bowl all over the shop and then be hammered all over the place.
“Bumrah is very close to getting a five-for or a six-for, might happen tomorrow. Then don’t come and tell me I told you so. That can happen tomorrow. Similarly with Shami, so nothing to worry about,” he signed off.
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