Ravi Shastri is famous for firing a bullet or two with microphone in hand and the Indian coach has lived up to his reputation in a recent interview with Cricbuzz. Here, he compared India's opening pair of Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma to Sourav Ganguly and Sachin Tendulkar.
Shastri was quizzed about the Indian top-order and he attributed the consistency of his openers to India's success in the limited-overs format.
"The top-order is a big factor for India in ODIs. Dhawan and Rohit are one of the best ODI opening pairs at the moment. Why? Because, again, they have put the word 'overseas' in the bin. It is the best example. They score runs irrespective of opposition and conditions. Where have they not score runs, tell me," the Indian coach told Cricbuzz in an exclusive interview.
He went on to add that the left and right combination is a big advantage to have at the top of the order while comparing Rohit and Dhawan to legends like Ganguly, Tendulkar, Gilchrist and Hayden.
"I think the left-right combination really helps them. Look at the speed with which Dhawan has got 5000 ODI runs. Look at Rohit's record, three ODI double hundreds, did we even think that was possible?"
"When they finish, I think they will be comparable to Sachin Tendulkar-Sourav Ganguly - India's best opening pair in ODIs, or even Matthew Hayden-Adam Gilchrist (Australia) and Gordon Greenidge-Desmond Haynes (West Indies). They are big game players. If you have a good number four and five, you back them up."
Shastri is known to be expressive of his opinion and this statement is indicative of how highly he rates the current Indian batsmen. Whether the comparisons hold fort or not is subjective.
The Indian bowling has been heavily credited for their recent success in overseas conditions. The coach is also of the same opinion and at the same time added that the batting has been a constant.
When asked about why the bowlers are talked about without giving credit to the top order, Shastri said, "Yes, because batting has been constant. You have a top-order of Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli that has been very consistent. Together they have 11 centuries in ODI cricket in 2018 alone. How many do other ODI top-orders have?"
The Indian batsmen have together amassed 15 ODI centuries in 2018 which goes on to further strengthen Shastri's narrative. The only other country to have more than 10 centuries as a team in the same year is England with 13.
The coach credited batting coach Sanjay Bangar for India's batting successes while also bringing up the Test records where Indian batsmen have 11 centuries in 13 overseas Test matches. In his usual combative manner, he also took a pot shot at the critics while outlining India's success.
"In both Tests and ODIs, our batsmen have put the word 'overseas' in the bin. The people who use this word - overseas - regularly, should look into the mirror and check their own stats as individuals and the teams they represented," Shastri said.
Shastri's contract is up after the 2019 cricket World Cup and it will be interesting to see whether he reprises his role as the coach of the team considering how close he is with the Indian captain, Virat Kohli.