Ravi Shastri had been a rather underrated but extremely resourceful allround cricketer to play for India. Making his debut in 1981 mainly as a left arm spinner having taken 15 wickets in that 3 test series vs New Zealand , it was his batting which gathered momentum as his career went along and he became one of the very tiny sample of cricketers to have batted from number 10 to number 1 in test cricket. Never ,the most spectacularly watchable , which he himself admits , he became a very obdurate opening batsman in ODIs and was a solid righthanded middle order in tests but never adverse to opening in tests as well ,having made some solid and battling 100s against West Indies , Pakistan and Australia in tests as opener . Ravi Shastri was known for his intelligence, resilience and unflappable temperament , virtues which carried him through his whole career . As a left arm spinner he was of great utility for his team with his tight line and length and capability of picking up crucial wickets. His 3830 runs at 35 average and 151 wickets in 80 tests with 11 tons (Two vs the all conquering Windies in 80s) and 3108 ODI runs and 129 ODI wickets in 150 ODIs at 4.21economy were very good numbers for someone who managed to maximise his talent as a cricketer. Many experts lamented that Shastri never became a long term Indian captain ,though he had all ingredients of being a successful leader, the skills he showed after becoming the current Indian coach, in shaping up Team India’s fortunes at the top of World cricket in 2 longest formats as also in his skilful commentary off the field.
One of the finest test innings Shastri played was at the SCG in 1992 . Australia has always been a happy hunting ground for him as he won the player of the tournament for his allround show in the mini World Cup held in 1985 which India won against all odds. At SCG 7 years later ,Shastri played a long and resolute innings of 206 to take India to a position of strength ,scoring mainly with his typical nudges and “chapatti” shots (his patent legside flicks) and venturing out to hit a debutant leg spinner off his length for towering 6s whenever the chubby youngster erred in length. Shastri was dropped by him on 66 and he was made to pay heavily for his missed chance . It was another matter that the youngster known as Shane Warne, went on to finally take Shastri’s wicket in that innings and also went on to become the greatest leg spinner to play the game after his horror debut . In that innings Shastri guided a teenage Tendulkar ,who scored first of his many test 100s in Australia as India piled on an imposing score of 483 for a 170 run 1st innings lead to put enormous pressure on the Aussies on the last day but Border (53*) saved the blushes for the home team as Australia escaped with a draw with 173/8 at close and here also Shastri was their main tormentor with 4/45 on a docile pitch offering some turn on last day.
On his 58th birthday here’s wishing the great Indian legend a very happy birthday as viewers can watch glimpse of his 206 vs Australia in below link.