Ravi Shastri (left) with KL Rahul    AFP (file photo)
Ravi Shastri (left) with KL Rahul AFP (file photo)

Ahead of the first Test of the five-match series between India and England, at Edgbaston starting August 1, Ravi Shastri echoed his own words from India’s South Africa tour earlier this year in an interview with ESPNCricinfo: “We have done exceptionally well in white-ball cricket. We showed some very good signs in South Africa as far as the red ball is concerned. We want to carry that forward.

“The challenge for us is to be consistent in the red-ball format overseas. We believe we have the potential to be one of the best travelling teams. At the moment, there is no side in the world that travels properly.

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“You can see what is happening to South Africa in Sri Lanka. We know our scorelines in England before this tour: 4-0 [2011], 3-1 [2014]. We want to do much better than that.” South Africa were whitewashed 0-2 in Sri Lanka. In fact, they lost the Tests by massive margins.

India did not do well in their only tour match, at Chelmsford. No Indian got a hundred or five wickets, and neither could they bowl out Essex. However, Shastri refuses to lose sweat over that: “A lot of players have been to England before. A lot of them have learned a lot in the last few years, playing as a unit. I see that as a big advantage as opposed to coming with a brand new side.”

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The summer, one of the hottest in England in recent times, has changed the pitch conditions. The Indians may find the conditions and pitches, sans moisture, familiar to home. Shastri added: “The square will be different, the outfield will be different and the weather conditions will be different to back in India. But whatever the conditions, the balls moves in England. In South Africa we played on some spicy tracks. We have to adapt to those 22 yards. We adapted better than South Africa in Johannesburg and we won that Test. They won a couple of sessions more than us in the first two Tests and won two Tests.

“They have experience. What you want is when you get in, they have got the experience to make it count. If they do that it will be a brilliant platform for the middle order, which, like I said, has the goods to convert that into a good score.”

Shastri also backed the out-of-form Cheteshwar Pujara, who has been in woeful form for Yorkshire during the ongoing County Championship: “He needs to spend time at the crease. If he gets one 60-70 under his belt, he will be a different player altogether. My job is to make sure he is thinking in that fashion.”

He pointed out that KL Rahul has been included as the ‘third opener’, adding that “the third opener can play anywhere in the top four. We are a very, very flexible outfit. Be prepared for that. We will surprise you guys at times.”