"Every coach, no matter who he is, wants his team to be in that top two or three...it was my endeavour when I took over as coach of India...to bring it into that top two or three
Ravi Shastri. Pic/Shadab Khan
Former Indian coach Ravi Shastri believes having the right blend of youth and experience has been pivotal in helping his side maintain their stranglehold at the top of the ICC Men's Team Rankings.
India recently pipped Australia to become the No.1 ranked Test nation ahead of next month's ICC World Test Championship final and Rohit Sharma's side also hold a healthy lead at the top of the T20I rankings.
Shastri was asked about the rankings on the latest episode of The ICC Review and the India great paid tribute to the recent consistency his former side have found under the captaincy of Rohit and head coach Rahul Dravid.
"It's a tribute to their consistency, their fitness and the way they've worked over the last five or six years to now be hungry and proud of wanting to belong there," Shastri said as quoted by ICC.
"It's the quality of players. If you look at these players, a lot of these players are at their prime when you look at the Indian Test side. They're experienced, they're at that age where they're battle-hardened, they've travelled around the world. They know what Test cricket is all about, they know what one-day cricket is all about, they know what T20 cricket is all about. And the mix is with experienced players and youth. There's youth filtering in, especially in the white-ball formats of the game. But as a nucleus in Test match cricket, there's tons of experience. So that's what makes the difference," he added.
"When you have that, you'll see sides that make it to the top two-three as history will tell you, they remain there for three-four years," Shastri said.
Shastri said he kept a close eye on the ICC rankings during his tenure as coach and was proud of the fact he helped India rise to the top of the Test charts during his time in the top job. "It mattered a lot to me," Shastri revealed.
"To be in that top two or three was extremely important and you looked at the rankings and if you knew you were four or five, then that upsets you because your team deserves to be in the top two or three, or that's what you strive or play for.
"Every coach, no matter who he is, wants his team to be in that top two or three...it was my endeavour when I took over as coach of India...to bring it into that top two or three.
"It was a desire to get it into the ICC rankings, into the top two or three. And as a coach, I'm proud that my team was number one for five years on the ICC rankings. No one can take that away. It's important and coaches do keep a fair track of that."
India currently hold a five-point lead at the top of the Test rankings with 121 rating points, with their World Test Championship final rivals Australia their closest challenger on 116 rating points.
Shastri does not expect India to be motivated by the lure of maintaining their hold on the top Test ranking during the World Test Championship final and says it will be the team that adjusts better to the conditions that will come away as winners at The Oval.
"I think when it comes to a one-off final, I think it's about how good you are over those five days," Shastri noted.
"How well you start off is extremely important as you don't want to be in a one-off match and be blown over during the first day and a half. Either get hammered in the field or you get an opportunity to bat and you're bowled out by tea time or bowled out on day one. You don't want that to happen.
"But if you get into the contest, where you have a good first day, then there's nothing -- I mean all this one and two and three (in rankings) won't count at all. It'll be day by day session by session that will matter."
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