Indian head coach Ravi Shastri has said that while living in a bio-bubble and in isolation can be depressing, it has worked wonders for his team as players have built strong bonds amid plenty of conversations around this beautiful game.
The Indian Cricket Team has been in bubble life since November when they embarked on a grueling 2.5 months of what turned out to be a historic tour of Australia where they win the T20I and Test series 2-1.
The Men in Blue returned home in the third week of January and after spending a week with their family, they were once in a bubble for the Test series against England.
There is no choice, there are restricted team areas, so you can’t go out, meet anyone and the same exists now,” Ravi Shastri said at a virtual press conference “So if you want to get out of the room, go into a team area, where you meet other players, so what it’s done basically is, it has made players meet each other more often after playing hours,” he added.
“So, I think the best thing that has happened is talking cricket amongst the team members and they had no choice, so they were forced to do it and that’s been a big help,” he said.
Talking about cricket and getting to understand each other’s background and mental state also helped the players to come close to each other like never before.
“They have gotten to understand each others’ background, mental state, where they come from, where they are in life, settled, unsettled.” Shastri said. “It allowed them to open themselves to their colleagues a lot more, discuss personal issues, you know more freely, win more trust from the team members, a lot of positives like you mentioned because of this bubble,” he said.
‘I had to be patient’- Ravi Shastri
India’s tour of Australia did not start off on a good note as the Virat Kohli-led team was mauled by the likes of Steve Smith and Glenn Maxwell in two high-scoring fixtures in the ODI series.
But Shastri knew that he had to be patient with the boys as they were coming off after a six-month hiatus.
“You had to be patient more than anything else. We started with two losses in Australia in ODIs. In normal circumstances, you can get straight to the point. You can be aggressive, you can make the most painful point with an individual and he’ll pull up his socks,” added Ravi Shastri.
“But I had made up my mind with my team management that we’re going to show empathy because for six months, a lot of the guys had not got out of their flats. No one lives in farms in India, some do, some don’t.” It was up to him to ensure the leeway that they got and how it was to be given. I knew very clearly that it’ll take time. Now how much time do I be patient, that was my goal,” he said.
Shastri said that he knew that the team needed one result in their favour to turn things around because of the hard work that the team had put in during the past five years.
“….and it didn’t take long, because we were a week/10 days, two weeks quarantined, another week, two losses, three weeks, by the time the boys trained a bit and I knew we needed one result our way for things to turn around, because of the work we had done last four-five years as an Indian cricket team…,” he stressed.
And, it happened exactly that way. India won a hard-fought final ODI in Canberra and then went on to win the T20I series by 2-1. They were hit by multiple roadblocks during the Test series but they overcame everything to eventually script a historic win by a margin of 2-1.
“This team takes pride in winning, this team doesn’t mind losing as long as they throw punches, so it was just a matter of being patient for that one switch of that result and it happened in the third ODI game (in Australia) through some brilliance from Hardik (Pandya) and Jaddu (Ravindra Jadeja) and then you didn’t look back…,” he said.