Despite the late drama, Ravi Shastri's appointment as the head coach of the Indian cricket team was a foregone conclusion once the former all-rounder threw his hat into the ring. Shatri had the backing of skipper Virat Kohli and the legend of Mumbai cricket applied for the high-profile job only after getting the assurance that he won't be overlooked as in the previous year when the Board of Control for Cricket in India's (BCCI) Cricket Advisory Committee comprising Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and V.V.S. Laxman preferred Anil Kumble over him. But once Kumble quit after a rift between him and Kohli, Shastri was the man the Indian captain wanted to work with. He enjoys the trust of Kohli and has an excellent relationship with the majority of the players with whom he worked closely during his tenure as team director from 2014 to 16.
Shastri could be the perfect foil for Kohli as India gears up for challenging tours. He has a sharp cricket brain, brings with him a wealth of experience, and is as aggressive as Kohli. Shatri has got an excellent ally in Zaheer Khan, who has been named the new bowling coach.
Shastri will make the players realize that there is no substitute for hard work. During his playing days, he made the most of his limited talent and it was this self realization that elevated the left-arm spinner who batted at No. 10 on his Test debut to that of the Indian opener in both the longer and the shorter formats of the game.
He loved to fight it out and was part of the generation which made Indian cricket world-beaters. He was a member of the Indian squad that triumphed in the 1983 World Cup and was adjudged 'champion of champions' as Sunil Gavaskar's men won the World Championship of Cricket Down Under two years later. He also emulated West Indian legend Garry Sobers's record of hitting six sixes in an over during a Ranji Trophy match against Baroda. He was a leading all-rounder in in the mid 80s and played with distinction for Glamorgan in English county cricket.
Shastri enjoyed great success as Test opener on the tours of England and Australia in 1990 and 1991-92. However, an error of judgment on the part of Shastri and the Indian team management post a knee operation cost both him and the team dearly in the 1992 World Cup. Shastri was not fully fit and his slow batting hurt India big time in narrow defeats to England and Australia while chasing. Though he played on for two more years, Shastri was quick to realize his best days were past him and he called it quits in 1994 at the age of 32. He became a commentator soon and has been actively involved with the game ever since. He was appointed interim Indian coach for the short tour of Bangladesh post the 2007 World Cup debacle.
The fact that the BCCI turned to him again after India were handed a drubbing in the 2014 Test series in England was another indicator of the esteem in which Shastri was held. He did an admirable job and worked well with coach Duncan Fletcher and captain M.S. Dhoni. Apart from the odd incident when he had a heated exchange with Wankhede Stadium curator Sudhir Naik after the latter prepared a batting beauty and South Africa amassed 438/4 in the ODI series decider in 2015, Shastri never courted controversy during his term as team director. The big plus was the factor that the players seemed to relish his company and had only good words to say about him. Shastri and Kohli jelled well and his inputs greatly helped the latter during his early days as Test captain.
Kohli and Indian cricket lovers will be hoping that the duo can weave more success in the days to come.