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‘Kohli’s the boss’ – coach Ravi Shastri cedes to captain’s authority in team India

Kohli Shastri
by Wisden Staff 3 minute read

Virat Kohli might have plenty of coaching staff around him, but he’s the one calling the shots in the Indian team, says head coach Ravi Shastri, who calls him “the boss” of the side.

Shastri has been an highly influential figure in cricket since his time playing for India, first as team manager and now as head coach, but insists that his role now is to only take the “burden” off Kohli, while the captain goes about leading the side in all three formats.

“The captain is the boss, I always believe that,” Shastri said on the Sky Cricket Podcast on Friday. “The job of the coaching staff, as far as I’m concerned, is to prepare the guys in the best possible way to be able to go out there and play brave, positive, fearless cricket.”

Under Kohli, the team has won 33 out of 55 Tests: the highest win-percentage for any Indian captain with more than one Test at the helm. The Kohli-Shastri pairing, which came into effect when Shastri took up the head coach’s role in 2017, has seen India extend their domination at the top of the ICC Test rankings.

“The captain leads from the front. Yes, we are there to take off the burden but you leave him to do his job in the middle. The captain sets the tone and is encouraged to set the tone. In the middle, he controls the show.”

Under Kohli’s guidance, player fitness has been handed massive importance; Shastri believes it stems from Kohli own will to drive himself to peak fitness, a mantra that has rubbed onto his teammates.

“When you talk about fitness, the leadership came from the top and that is Virat. He is not a guy to mess around … He woke up one morning and said ‘if I want to play this game I want to be the fittest player in the world and compete against the best in all conditions’ and he let his body go through one hell of a lot.

“When he sets those standards, it rubs off on others,” Shastri added. “Test cricket for us is the biggest form. It’s the benchmark. We want to set standards.”

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