For over a decade, Ravi Shastri rendered loyal service to Indian cricket in many ways. As a stubborn opening or middle-order batsman; as a left-arm spinner who was an integral part of the attack; and as long-time deputy to a couple of captains. In his time he was very much the glamour boy of Indian cricket, tall and good-looking and with an image to match. He had his detractors who charged that he batted too slowly, that he was selfish in his approach, that he continued to be in the team only because Gavaskar was captain. But the phlegmatic Shastri took all this in his stride, letting his performances on the field speak for themselves. In reality, as Shastri himself admitted, he was not particularly talented but had come up only through hard work.
Shastri might not have cut a dashing figure on the field as he pushed and prodded and grafted his way for runs and his bowling was little more than defensive as he pegged away on a good length without much variation. Of batsman who have played ten Test innings against Australia, only Eddie Paynter averages more than Shastri's 77.75. He was like Navjot Sidhu in reverse: he started off as a lower-order hitter, but ended up as the original stonewaller at the top of the order.
But no one could deny his immense value to the side, his commitment to the team's cause and his consistency had to be admired. He very rarely let the country down and was an excellent utility cricketer in the one-day game, good enough to win the coveted Champions of Champions title - and the Audi car that went with it - in the World Championship of Cricket in Australia in 1985. Despite his image as a cricketer with a defensive outlook, Shastri could really have a go at the bowling - as he did while equalling Gary Sobers' world record of six sixes in an over in a Ranji Trophy game in January 1985. A deep thinker and a shrewd strategist, he led India to victory in the one Test he captained - against West Indies at Madras in 1987-88.
Shastri - who played his last Test aged just 30 - is now a high-profile TV commentator and very popular speaker who had a cheeky humorous approach.
Ravi Shastri travels from India
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