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Shastri a yes-man? No, says Kohli 

Mumbai, November 15

It’s widely believed that skipper Virat Kohli is running the show and coach Ravi Shastri is merely his yes-man. The skipper, however, defended the coach, saying Shastri being his yes-man was the most bizarre thing he has ever heard.  “That is the most bizarre thing I have heard. In Indian cricket, I don’t think there is anyone else who has said “no” to me more than him honestly,” Kohli said before the team’s departure to Australia here today. “He is one guy I can speak to and can get an honest opinion. I have made more changes to my game listening to him than anyone else in the past.”

Kohli went on to say that apart from him, the other players have learnt immensely from Shastri. “His contribution ever since we started building this team is making people believe they belong there. We all went through tough time in 2014 (the England tour), and Shikhar (Dhawan) in the 2015 World Cup… Shastri knows how to get the best out of the players,” said Kohli. “It is mostly about man management at this level and Ravi bhai has done that brilliantly.”

Pacers key in Australia

Kohli has had strong recent returns from India’s fast bowlers, which could be crucial to his hopes of winning the series Down Under, which begins in December. Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah and Umesh Yadav have all been part of the pace attack in recent Tests and India are travelling to Australia at full strength in that department.

The likes of Shami, Ishant and Bumrah were impressive on recent tours of South Africa and England while Umesh became only the third Indian paceman after Kapil Dev and Javagal Srinath to claim 10 wickets in a home Test when he helped the hosts to a 10-wicket victory against West Indies in the second Test. 

“After a long time we feel like we can pick up 20 wickets every game which I think is a great feeling to have but the whole combination has to come together for us to win the series and not just one Test match and feel happy about it,” the skipper said.

‘Batsmen need to step up’ 

“We are all feeling very good that we have a great bowling attack now but then our batsmen need to step up as well,” Kohli said.

“We have spoken again as a team after England and everyone is really keen to correct those things and put in a complete performance,” he added. “So we put in a complete performance for a day and we want that to last for a series and for that to happen people have to take more ownership in every Test match that we play.”

India will play a three-match T20 series before the first Test starts in Adelaide on December 6. Perth, Melbourne and Sydney will host the remainder of the Tests, followed by a three-match ODI series. 

‘Won’t start sledging, but won’t take it quietly’

Responding to a question regarding verbal spats with the Australian players, Virat Kohli said his team won’t initiate sledging.

“We were always the ones giving it back. As long as it (sledging) does not start, we will not go out looking for anything, but we will reciprocate,” Kohli said “I know from the management point of view, things are explained of what the team needs. As long as it does not start, we are okay with it. In our own minds, we have to be competitive and not let our focus drop.”

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