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‘Absolute nonsense’ – Shastri rubbishes reports of rift between Virat Kohli & Rohit Sharma

by Wisden Staff 3 minute read

Ravi Shastri, the India head coach, has rubbished reports of a rift between captain Virat Kohli and limited-overs vice-captain Rohit Sharma, stating that a difference in opinion on team matters should not be termed a conflict.

“I feel it is absolute nonsense,” Shastri told Gulf News after India’s tour of the Caribbean. “Listen, I have been around the dressing room for the last five years. I have seen how the boys have played, and how they have complemented the team and know their work ethic. I have been there with them, and I know the way they play.

“If that [a rift] was the case, why would Rohit get five hundreds in the World Cup? Why would Virat do what he is doing? How would they have partnerships together?”

After India’s semi-final exit from the 2019 World Cup, several reports in the media indicated a possible falling out between captain Kohli and Rohit, suggesting the team had been divided into two factions. In July, before heading to the Caribbean, Kohli categorically rubbished the reports, saying it was ‘disrespectful’ to feed off lies and overlook facts.

Shastri, who was reappointed coach last month, agreed, adding that a difference of opinion in the team was always a possibility, especially given the management is open to fresh perspective on strategies, even from junior players in the team.

“In a side when you have 15 players, there will always be times when there will be opinions that will be different,” said Shastri. “That is what is needed. I don’t want everyone toeing the same line. You have got to have discussions and someone might then think of a fresh strategy, which has to be encouraged.

“You have to give the guys the opportunity to express themselves and then decide what is best. Sometimes, it might be the junior most player in the team who may come up with a strategy that we hadn’t even thought of, and we need to bring that to the table. So these should not be seen as a conflict.”

Rohit and Kohli were India’s leading run-scorers in the 2019 World Cup, aggregating a combined 1091 runs. The duo has notched up 17 100-run stands between them in ODIs, averaging 65.72, and have been an indispensable part of India’s limited-over success this decade.

“When a team is playing in this fashion over five years, it is important that you get behind the team and be positive rather than try and create any trouble,” Shastri added.

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