Responding to Ashwin’s comments on feeling crushed, Shastri told the Indian Express during an interaction that he is glad he made the statement about Kuldeep because it made Ashwin do something different. Shastri said, “Ashwin did not play the Test in Sydney and Kuldeep bowled well. So it’s fair I give Kuldeep a chance. If my statement on Kuldeep hurt Ashwin, I am glad I made that statement. It made him do something different. It made him do something different. My job is not to butter everyone’s toast. My job is to state facts without agenda.”
The 59-year-old added that as players, cricketers must take up challenges and prove coaches wrong. He stated, “If your coach challenges you, what will you do? Go home crying and say I won’t come back. I as a player would take it as a challenge, to prove the coach wrong.”
Trying to drive home his view, the former coach pointed out that Ashwin the bowler of 2021 is a vastly improved version of the 2019 off-spinner. He also responded to the veteran cricketer’s statement that he left like being thrown under a bus after hearing Shastri’s comments.
The former cricketer elaborated, “The way Ashwin bowled in 2019 and the way he has bowled in 2021 is chalk and cheese. About throwing Ashwin under the bus, he need not worry because I had told the bus driver to stop 2-3 feet short. The message to Ashwin in 2018 was that he had to be fit. He has worked on that and look how he’s bowling now. He's world-class.”
Ashwin is currently with the Indian team in South Africa for a three-match Test series. The off-spinner is on the verge of a major landmark as he needs only eight wickets to go past Kapil Dev’s Test tally of 434 scalps.
--By A Cricket Correspondent