Ahead of their NZ tour, India cricket coach Ravi Shastri tells Michael Vaughan how he deals with Virat Kohli.

What kind of coach are you?

I am more into fine-tuning, mindsets and how you play the game. Rarely will I go and tinker with a player unless I think it is needed. Yes, I will bang him on the head if I think he is a pussy or afraid of something. That is when I am at my nastiest. Then I'm not a coach, I am something else.

You have to be fearless if you want to play for this team. Fearless means trusting your instincts and clarity of thought. Once you have made up your mind don't be scared of "what if". You would rather get out testing your instincts than being in two minds.


When I took this job I knew India had brilliant individual players but how often when we have toured overseas have we looked like a team? You are not here to fill in your own numbers. You have to think: who is going to be like Australians, who play hard for their country? Be prepared for the battle out there in the middle. My coaching is on those lines.

How do you deal with criticism, especially from former players?

You expect it. I am one of those that if it is constructive, then fine. If I find it is agenda-driven, I don't care who the individual is, then I will throw a punch back straight away.

Your team have won a test series in Australia. Is it better than winning the 1983 World Cup?

Winning the World Cup in 1983 was big and also 1985 when we beat Pakistan in the final of the Benson & Hedges World Championship in Melbourne, but this was the biggest I have been involved in because, for me, test cricket is the purest format of the game.

The World Cup is this year. Where are your team and who are the favourites?

In one-day cricket, it is how good you are close to the tournament, in terms of injuries and form. I always believe in a World Cup no one team is favourite. There will be three or four teams that can do it and it is how you start.

If we gain momentum early then India are very dangerous because we have got a lot of crowd support and things backing us. We have the team that can go the distance.


You work so closely with Virat Kohli - give us an insight into him as a man.

We are similar in our mindset. We are both aggressive in our way of thinking. We are very clear about how we want to play this game as a team, which is aggressive on the field, playing with intent and take the game forward and play to win within the rules.

Yesterday someone asked me if there are any similarities between Sachin [Tendulkar] and Virat. I said there were plenty. Let's start with work ethic. It is doing the hard yards, looking ugly in the nets and sacrificing important things for your cricket. It is staying in the zone. No excuses.

No pointing fingers at others. If you make a mistake, then own up.

Virat Kohli is aggressive on the field, playing with intent and plays to win within the rules. Photo / Getty Images
Virat Kohli is aggressive on the field, playing with intent and plays to win within the rules. Photo / Getty Images

They do that. But one thing is different. Sachin was composed and in the zone like MS Dhoni. Virat can be in your face. He is the closest a player has come to Vivian Richards in the way he bats.

That "in your face" approach is with fast bowlers and any opponent. He is also prepared to do hard work and be ugly. That is part of his batting he learned in England. He wants to compete, and with dominance ideally. But he knows you can't do it all the time.

He had to be humble in England. Leave a lot of balls against two of the best in James Anderson and Stuart Broad and he came out on top.

What about Virat the man in the dressing room?

Oh, fantastic. He has matured tremendously. When I told the Aussie media he is the perfect gentleman, they were shocked.

On the field is one thing, but come off the field and meet him, he is one of the most pleasant and normal blokes you could ever meet.

Has he has been a driving force for test cricket?

Massively. In our country where everything is driven by Twenty20, Indian Premier League and one-day cricket, to have an individual like him to put the onus on test cricket more than any format of the game is massive because all the young kids want to emulate him. That is the biggest thing to come out of it.

If Virat Kohli said: "I am bored with test cricket," you will see the impact it would have on the game, especially in India. For him to enjoy it and enjoy the things that go with test cricket: the pressure an individual feels during a test match is great.

His words are "you sleep with pressure and you get up with pressure" in test cricket. In one-day cricket, you have pressure, but at the end of the game it is over, you are on a flight and have three days off. That is the biggest difference I try to tell people about.

When you played against the Aussies the absence of Steve Smith and David Warner was noticeable. Were they not as aggressive as past teams?

I would not say so because we would not have changed our attitude, regardless of who was playing. We would have been right into them as well. Definitely they are quality players and would have made a difference but the way we bowled, we were up for playing against any Australian who faced us.