Ravi Shastri was on Tuesday appointed coach of the Indian cricket team for the first time. He had earlier served in the capacity of team director. The decision was taken late on Tuesday night after the cricket board's Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC) comprising of Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman had a conference call with team captain Virat Kohli. Former fast bowler Zaheer Khan was appointed bowling coach while Rahul Dravid has been asked to work with the Indian team as a batting consultant but this will not be on a permanent basis. Dravid will join the team as and when required, mostly on overseas tours.
The announcement of coach wasn't an easy decision for the CAC. It has been learnt that it was a tough fight between Shastri and Sehwag but it was skipper Kohli's strong recommendation about Shastri's successful earlier tenure that swung the deal in the former's favour.
According to PTI, quoting highly-placed sources, former captain Ganguly had reservations about Shastri's appointment but was finally convinced by Tendulkar, who wanted the team's wish to be respected. It was learnt that Shastri however didn't get his choice of bowling coach -- Bharath Arun -- where Ganguly pulled a coup by getting Zaheer on board.
"Sourav was brought around and convinced about Ravi after it was agreed that Zaheer would be made the bowling coach," a BCCI official told PTI on conditions of anonymity.
"Zaheer is such a name that no one could have possibly objected to due to his repertoire of knowledge and a fantastic relation with the current crop," the source added.
It could be safely said that BCCI GM (Administration) MV Sridhar and CEO Rahul Johri also spoke to Zaheer during their recent trip to West Indies, where the Delhi Daredevils captain-cum-bowling coach was present as a commentator for the host broadcasters.
The 38-year old Zaheer played 92 Test matches and 200 One-day Internationals in his magnificent career. The left-armer took 311 wickets in Tests and 282 in ODIs.
Cricket commentator Harsha Bhogle took to Twitter to hint at how the CAC have cut down Shastri's powers.
Overseas tours is where the challenge lies. If Dravid batting 'consultant' and Zaheer bowling coach, is Shastri more "team director" again?— Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha) July 11, 2017
BTW, apart from Shastri and Zak, Rahul Dravid appointed batting consultant for overseas tours by BCCI. Interesting.— Cricketwallah (@cricketwallah) July 11, 2017
On Zaheer's appointment, BCCI's acting secretary Amitabh Choudhury said, "Khan is a contemporary cricketer who assumed the mentoring role to a young fast bowling unit even during his playing days with India. His inputs will be of immense value to our young fast bowlers, who have shown tremendous potential in the last couple of years."
Shastri was all set to get an extension last year when Anil Kumble threw his hat in the ring and Shastri, despite a great performance, was dumped.
His exit was followed by a public spat with Ganguly, whom he accused of not being present during his interview. Ganguly in turn retorted by saying that had he been serious, Shastri should have not attended an interview while holidaying from Bangkok.
However the wheels have turned quickly after Kohli-Kumble relationship turned sour.
It was then that BCCI decided to invite fresh applications knowing that Kumble was living on borrowed time. During the initial phase, Shastri didn't apply but when the deadline was extended, he jumped in.
Known as players' man and a fantastic manager, Shastri was considered an astute tactician during his playing days, a skipper India never had. His relationship with both former skipper MS Dhoni and captain Virat Kohli has been great.
(With PTI inputs)