Former India fielding coach R Sridhar recalled an incident when Ravi Shastri lost his cool over Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s slow innings in the second ODI against England in 2018 at the Lord’s. He was disappointed with the wicket-keeper batter’s batting approach in the game, as India lost the game by 86 runs.
Batting first, England put on 322 runs on the board, on the back of Joe Root’s brilliant century. David Willey also played a great inning lower down the order, while Eoin Morgan, Jason Roy, and Jonny Bairstow contributed vital runs. In response, none of the Indian batters could make a big score. Virat Kohli and Suresh Raina chipped in with the 40s, while MS Dhoni scored a 59-ball 37.
The then-India head coach, Ravi Shastri wasn’t happy with MS Dhoni’s innings. Recalling the incident in his book, ‘Coaching Beyond: My Days with the Indian Cricket Team’, Sridhar wrote,
“Ravi, meanwhile, was seething. He was furious not because we lost by 86 runs, but how we lost the game, how we went down without putting up a fight. We didn’t go for the target, we didn’t go down throwing a punch, we just went down tamely The head coach wasn’t going to let that one sail harmlessly by.”
“The decider was in Headingley, and we had a team meeting the previous day. The entire squad was in attendance, including all members of the support staff, and I knew Ravi was going to make a strong point. He was at his loudest and fiercest as he said, ‘No matter who you may be, there should not be another occasion when we lose a match not trying to win it. It will not happen under my watch. And if anyone does it, that will be the last bloody game of cricket they will play under my watch. You can lose a cricket game, no shame in that, but you will not lose like this,” he added.
MS Dhoni never broke eye contact with Ravi Shastri: R Sridhar
R Sridhar further recalled that even if Ravi Shastri was talking to the team, his eyes kept were on MS Dhoni. He added that the wicket-keeper batter too did not flinch, and listened to Ravi Shastri’s words with dignity. In his book, ‘Coaching Beyond: My Days with the Indian Cricket Team’, R Sridhar wrote,
“MS was sitting right there in the front, and while Ravi’s words were meant for the team, his eyes were trained on MS. To the former skipper’s great credit, he didn’t flinch, he never broke eye contact with Ravi.”
“He didn’t look here and there or fidget because one of his many admirable qualities is his ability to take the knocks, especially when he knows in his heart of hearts that he deserves them,” he added.