Former India head coach Ravi Shastri believes the Rohit Sharma-led side should have the mindset to win 4-0 over top-ranked Test team Australia in the upcoming Border-Gavaskar Trophy, starting from Thursday in Nagpur.
He added that he expects the ball to turn in the series opener.
After Nagpur, India and Australia will face off in matches at New Delhi, Dharamshala and Ahmedabad. India are the current holders of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, having won the last three series against Australia in 2017, 2018-19 and 2020-21, while Australia last won a Test series in India in 2004.
“India should look to win 4-0, we’re playing at home. I’m brutal. I’ve been to two tours of Australia, I know what’s happened. My mindset would be, ‘How can I beat Australia 4-0 if I’m the coach’, which means day one, I want a ball to pitch on leg stump and hit off stump.”
“I want it to rip. If someone asks me what kind of pitch? Expect that. If you lose the toss, expect the ball to turn in the first session of play. That’s what I want, and take it from there,” said Shastri on The ICC Review show on Wednesday.
Shastri also said India should opt to play left-arm wrist-spinner Kuldeep Yadav in the playing eleven at Nagpur, to give their bowling attack more variety. “I’d like to see some magic. I’d like to see some Kuldeep Yadav stuff. If you lose the toss on day one, if it’s a good pitch where it’s not turning, the finger spinner is not getting enough, I want a leg-spinner to be able to rip it. Spin it before probably any other spinner in the game.”
With Ravindra Jadeja fully fit after recovering from knee injury which needed surgery last year, Shastri remarked that the left-arm spin all-rounder comes into the playing eleven for him in place of Axar Patel and form a formidable pair with off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, who he called the trump card for India.
“(Ravindra) Jadeja comes back into the side, it was always going to be between Jadeja or Axar (Patel). You can play both actually, if you want to strengthen your batting. But Ash, for me, is the big card. An in-form (Ravichandran) Ashwin could help India dominate this series.”
“If he is in form, real good form. And I’m not saying just with the ball. In these conditions he can play a massive role with the bat also lower down the order. If he’s on fire, I think India will win this series. Easily.”
Shastri signed off by saying India should play two fast-bowlers in Mohammed Siraj and Mohammed Shami with Jasprit Bumrah still on sidelines. “From what they have, I would think Mohammed Siraj and Mohammad Shami. Umesh (Yadav) bowled well in Bangladesh, but since these two boys have been playing a lot together, they’re match fit, they’re in form (be it) white ball or red ball, they can play. They can start off.”