With India set to face New Zealand in the World Test Championship (WTC) final, former England left-arm spinner Monty Panesar feels the recent performances of the Indian Test cricket team is a by-product of head coach Ravi Shastri’s influential presence rather than Virat Kohli‘s. Speaking to India Today, the 39-year-old said, “If one analyses the performance of India in the past few months, you can see that it is more of Ravi Shastri’s team than Virat Kohli’s. At least that’s what I feel”.
Panesar feels Shastri has invigorated the Indian team with “self-belief”, and used their win in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy as an example.
“It is Ravi Shastri who has built a self-belief in this Indian cricket team. What they achieved in Australia after the infamous ’36’ in Adelaide is quite a miracle. They won the series even though their charismatic captain Virat Kohli didn’t play the rest of the series, and India kept losing players to injury.
“It was Shastri who got the job done for India against Australia that too in their backyard”, said the former cricketer.
The WTC final between India and New Zealand is set to begin from June 18, in Southampton. Panesar believes that both teams have a chance to win the final.
“If there will be an overcast condition then Kane Willamson-led New Zealand will have an upper edge, but at the same time the Ageas Bowl has a great drainage system, and if weather permits and the game went on to Day four or five, India would have a great chance to win the championship”, he said.
“What I see, ICC would love to see the final going into the final day. I doubt it will be a green top,” he further added.
Lately, India’s spin duo of Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin have become Virat Kohli’s main weapon in Test matches, due to their vast experience and all-round abilities. Even Ashwin has shown his brilliance with the bat in recent fixtures, against Australia and England.
Panesar stated that both Jadeja and Ashwin should be included in the Indian XI due to their “partnership”.
“India must play both Jadeja and Ashwin. There is no one better than these two at present in the world. They bowl in partnership, understand each other’s game, and overall they are street-smart cricketers”, he said.
The former Sussex player was also asked to select his Indian playing XI for the WTC final. He included young Shubman Gill in a line-up consisting of Rohit Sharma, Cheteshwar Pujara, Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Rishabh Pant, Jadeja, Ashwin, Ishant Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami.
The Indian cricket team is scheduled to land in England on June 2, and will get ample time to train. Meanwhile, New Zealand are set to face England in two Test fixtures ahead of the WTC Final.
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