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Shastri delivers warning on COVID bubbles

Outgoing India head coach Ravi Shastri believes bubble life has taken a toll on his players following their disappointing group-stage elimination at the T20 World Cup.

India were heavily fancied ahead of the tournament but failed to reach the semi-finals. A bulging schedule has led to many players being away from home for several months and complicating matters has been the necessity of controlled environments during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Even the batting of Sir Donald Bradman, said Shastri, would have been affected.

While Shastri, who is set to be replaced by Rahul Dravid following the end of his tenure of more than four years, was adamant he was not making excuses, he believes the restrictive nature of bubbles impacted his players.

“When a guy doesn’t go home for six months, he might have his family with him, but if he’s got parents and other family and you don’t get a chance to see them, it’s not easy at all,” Shastri said.

“I don’t care who you are, if your name is Don Bradman, if you’re in a bubble as well, your average will come down because you’re human.

“This is not something where you just put petrol in the backside and then expect the guy to move on in overdrive. It’s tough times. In life it’s not what you accomplish, it’s what you overcome and that’s what this team has done.

“They’ve shown the drive to hang in there, no complaints, but sooner or later the bubble will burst so you’ve got to be careful.”

Shastri has overseen two famous Test series wins over Australia at the helm while India also hold a 2-1 lead over England, with the fifth and final match held over until summer 2022 after being postponed due to coronavirus concerns among the touring camp.

Those two achievements are the jewels in the crown of Shastri, who said: “Nothing beats Australia, England, we’re up in the series. It will be the longest time we’re up in the series, till next year. It feels good. It’s been one heck of a journey for me, personally.”

India’s Super 12s exit in the Gulf came down to starting their schedule with heavy defeats to arch rivals Pakistan and New Zealand, who are both into the semis, but Shastri tipped the side to bounce back in Australia next year.

He added: “Yes, we’re disappointed with the result in the first two games here but let’s be honest I’m not here to make any sorts of excuses. We lacked the daring in the second game against New Zealand.

“It’s something for the boys to learn and they’ll get an opportunity again next year. It’s not often you have two World Cups in 12 months, so hopefully they’ll go and kick some butt there.”

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