PARTAB RAMCHAND | 27 JANUARY, 2020
Shastri’s ‘Obsession’ and Kohli’s ‘Desire’ - An ICC Trophy
A “huge obsession”
So coach Ravi Shastri has finally spoken the language of Indian cricket fans in general. A world title is a “huge obsession’’ something that he is prepared to “chase’’ with his team. There is nothing wrong with this attitude. In fact it is to be commended. One must be ambitious in sports, like in every other field and when you stretch this for it to become an obsession so be it as long as you do not put any pressure on yourself. In this connection one recalls the words of Jimmy Connors in 1978. The feisty American lost to Bjorn Borg in the Wimbledon title clash in 1977 and 1978 and said he wasn’t going to give up and spoke of an “obsession’’ to get the better of Borg. Sure enough at the US Open in 1978 he was able to turn the tables on the Swede beating him in straight sets.
It is a rosy scenario for Indian cricket being No 1 in the Test rankings and No 2 in the ODI rankings. The fact however remains that India has not won an ICC world title since lifting the Champions Trophy in England in 2013 under MS Dhoni. Under Shastri’s tenure as coach India have competed in three global tournaments – the 2015 World Cup, the 2016 World T-20 and the World Cup in England this year. All three times India failed to get past the semifinals going down to Australia, West Indies and New Zealand. India also lost to Pakistan in the 2017 Champions Trophy final in England. Before Shastri’s tenure ends India have two more chances to clinch a world title – two World T-20 tournaments first in October next year in Australia and then in 2021 in India.
Shastri himself has won two world titles as a player. He was a member of the 1983 World Cup winning team in England and figured prominently in the World Championship of Cricket triumph in Australia in 1985 winning the man of the tournament and an Audi car. He takes pride in the fact that he is the coach of the No 1 Test team but admits that the absence of an ICC trophy hurts. ``I like to win’’ he said in a recent interaction. ``So yes, you could say that I am after an ICC title. I’ll chase that with my team.’’
There is a clear shifting of focus by India to the T-20 format not surprisingly with two World Cup competitions coming up in quick succession and Shastri has predicted that within the next 12 months India would take their place in the top two if not the No 1 position in this format. For the record India are currently No 5 in the ICC rankings. It remains to be seen whether Shastri’s prediction and, more important, obsession can come true.
However, it is interesting to note that Shastri’s comments are in contrast with Virat Kohli who recently spoke in measured terms of ``not focusing on things which are only based on results’’ but ``enjoying the process’’ instead. The obsession according to the Indian captain came from the public at large. “You could say winning an ICC tournament is like an obsession or like a wish that people have which is a beautiful thing,’’ said Kohli. “We players obviously have the desire to win big tournaments and big series and we want to give off our best. But if you focus on things which are only based on the results you don’t enjoy the process. We play well as a team because we enjoy the process.’’
Kohli obviously is careful not to put any pressure on the team even if he does “desire’’ to win a big tournament but the more plain speaking Shastri is absolutely clear in his objective. It is an obsession and nothing less.