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Former Indian coach Ravi Shastri has backed the inclusion of batter Ajinkya Rahane into India's squad for the World Test Championship (WTC) against Australia which will be held at The Oval in England from June 7 to 11.
"I'm so glad he's made it to the side," Shastri told ESPNcricinfo.
Shastri thinks that Rahane's selection was not based on his recent performance in Indian Premier League but looking into his form in first-class cricket.
"People think he's just played three IPL games and that's why he's in the side. They must have been on holiday for six months when he was playing first-class cricket. They must've been somewhere in the jungle where there's no contact with anyone in the world. When you go six months into a holiday, you miss those 600 runs," he said.
In the Ranji Trophy 2022-23, Rahane has scored 634 runs in 11 innings at an average of 57.64. he had also clinched two centuries in that season.
The former coach also believed that in WTC, the Indian team needed experience players considering his records in Australia. Rahane has scored 1090 runs against Australia with an average of 37.58 in 17 matches. He had led the side in the absence of Virat Kohli in the Australia Tour for two matches and won.
"Absolutely, it's a one-off big game, like the Super Bowl, and you need your experienced player," Shastri said of Rahane's inclusion.
"Don't forget just two-and-a-half years ago, the man won a Test series in Australia. He was the captain when Virat [Kohli] went [on paternity leave] and did a sterling job," he added.
Shastri compared Rahane with Pujara who had done his come back into the team after scoring runs in county cricket for Sussex. He had scored eight centuries and three double hundreds last year.
"People forget that hundred at the MCG, the way he played, and the fact that he's gone back to the grind. You saw what it did with Pujara, he went back to the grind playing domestic cricket, playing county cricket, just got the number of runs under his belt, then came back into Test cricket and performed. It's the same thing with Rahane, let's hope that experience comes handy," he further added.
Shastri revealed that he was not a part of the single selection meeting when he was coaching the Indian side. He said that he has "zero first-hand experience" of selection meetings.
"I have zero first-hand experience [of attending selection meetings]," he said. "Seven years I was part of the team, I never went near a selection meeting. I wasn't invited either. I think in the long run, yes [a coach should be invited].
He also said that he has spent a lot of time with the players and therefore it would be better if he was included in the selection meeting to hear the perspective of selectors. He hinted that there were some people in the meeting who were not supposed to be there.
"You spend a lot of time with the boys, it's important, even if not in voting capacity, but to hear what the selectors are thinking, what is their train of thoughts are. And then to decide what could be the right thing for the side. I have zero idea how it starts, how it finishes, who are there in the meeting. From what I gather, there were a lot of people [in the meetings], over the last three-four years, inside selection meetings, not supposed to be there, against the constitution but pitched up," Shastri added.
"I needed the trust of the player," Shastri explained. "if a player knew I was a selector or I could influence a selector/chairman of the committee, then will he open up to me? Will he have the same trust in me? There could be a certain people who will come and still be open and upfront, there could be a certain people who might not want to, and I don't blame them because they may have some reservations.
However, Shastri believed that coaches should not have a say in the selection process as they should be confined to the dressing room and provide the best input to the players.
"From my point of view, that's why I thought it's best to stay away, but in the long run, especially when a team is in the rebuilding stage, it's extremely important that a coach who spends a lot of time with the players within the confines of the dressing room can give some valuable inputs," Shastri concluded. (ANI)