Ravi Shastri Exclusive Interview of IPL 2024

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Stake sat down with Indian cricketing legend, and brand ambassador, Ravi Shastri, to discuss some of the biggest talking points from this season’s IPL competition , as well as looking ahead to what the rest of the fixtures have in store for cricket fans .

Read on to see our exclusive interview and learn more about Shastri’s IPL picks and predictions for the 2024 season on Stake Sportsbook .

Q: Your commentary style is renowned for its mix of insight, passion, and occasional humor. Could you walk us through your process of preparing for matches or commentary stints, including how you balance expert analysis with audience engagement during extended coverage?

A: When I am doing commentary, I keep things simple. I speak what I see and I do the right amount of preparation on crucial aspects such as the event and the teams playing. It is important for me to strike a balance in my preparation, avoiding information overload and staying focused in the present to provide relevant commentary.

Q: Do you have any specific moments or matches that stand out to you as particularly memorable or challenging in your commentary career?

A: A specific moment during my career as a commentator, I would say the momentum shift in the game in Calcutta where Australia was one game up in the series and India bounced back through Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman’s partnership. That is one game that often comes to my mind. Another game I fondly recollect, is during my tenure as the Coach of India- where we had taken a lead against Australia and then were bundled out for 36 to get a hammering at the Adelaide Oval – what happened later was history.

Q: Virat Kohli seems to be trending for his strike rate, especially after his most recent hundred in the match between Rajasthan Royals and Royal Challengers Bangalore. Would it be beneficial for India to have Virat Kohli open in the World Cup and to also get the best out of him?

A: While Virat Kohli may be trending, being the lone ranger means playing the game according to the state of the game. When wickets fall around you, your strike rate is likely to drop. It's tempting to focus solely on individual performance, aiming for quick runs such as 60 runs for 36 balls, but that can lead to team losses. It's crucial for other players to contribute, which in turn can boost the strike rate of the player in question.

Q: If you were to curate a list for the upcoming World Cup team, which young cricketing talent from this IPL season would be a must- have on the team? Would Mayank Yadav be one of them?

A: Mayank Yadav is a promising talent, although his fitness needs careful monitoring due to past injuries. However, his consistent bowling actions promises to keep batsmen hopping. Another player worth mentioning is Riyan Parag, whose skills as a batsman have left a strong impression on me. I'm eager to see his performance this season, as his positive attitude is something I like.

Q: If you were to select players for the position of wicketkeeper-batter in the upcoming T-20 world cup, who would you pick?

A: As far as Wicketkeeper-batsmen go, I would say Ishan Kishan tops the list for me. Being a left-hander and one of the guys who can bat at the top of the order. You’ve also got Rishab Pant coming back - he will be watched as the season goes by especially on how he sustains his fitness, which looks fantastic so far. There is Sanju Samson and KL Rahul. So in the pecking order, I’ll put Kishan, Pant, Samson and Rahul because of the numbers they are going to bat. At the top, we need a left-hander so Kishan qualifies straight away. And if someone has to bat lower down the order, it would be Pant. Again, Samson comes into play because of where he can bat- he can do it in the top order (that is top 3). And of course there is KL Rahul. It is a long season and there is potential for people getting injured. But these are the players to watch - but Kishan and Pant would be my top two.

Q: What factors would you attribute to RCB's struggle this season and their continued efforts to clinch an IPL title?

A: Well, it has to be a team performance. Look at the teams at the top of the table - you’ve got 6 or 7 players performing all the time. However, when you look at RCB there is only 1 or 2 performing. In such cases, you are going to be at the bottom of the table.

Q: Given the evolving landscape of cricket, particularly with the emergence of T20 leagues, technological advancements, and evolving player strategies, how do you view these changes in relation to the sport's traditional ethos? Furthermore, with the intensified scrutiny and analysis of players' performances, how do you believe this influences their mental resilience and the broader dynamics of the game, on and off the field?

A: In cricket, particularly in T20 matches, staying ahead of the game is crucial. Whether it's batting or bowling, a significant aspect is outsmarting the opponent, often through premeditated moves or strategic guesses. Those who guess right come out on top by executing the right moves. With the increasing number of leagues worldwide, players will get smarter at this concept and to stay ahead of the curve, they must constantly be ahead of the eight ball.

Q: What are your thoughts on the transition of captaincy in the Mumbai Indians team? Do you anticipate any impact on the players’ dynamic when playing together for Team India?

A: The transition of the MI captaincy could have been handled better, in my opinion. While franchises have the right to choose their captain, more transparency in the decision-making process would have been beneficial. If the intention was to select Hardik Pandya for the captaincy, clear communication with Rohit Sharma about his role in supporting this transition would have been key. Recognizing Rohit's immense contribution as a five-time IPL champion and involving him in the conversation could have facilitated a smoother transition.

Q: Who would you consider as the best white-ball batsman across the game?

A: It is difficult to single out one white ball player is very difficult- there are so many good ones out there. In white ball cricket, it is not a case about you lasting for a long time. You can do damage for one season or event two and it can be remembered- the Gills, the de Villiers’, the Bumrahs. At this moment, the game changer for me is Jasprit Bumrah- the way he is bowling at the moment, it doesn’t matter who the batsman is, he has got his number.

Q: What are your thoughts on Mohit Sharma's comeback journey? Do you see parallels between his comeback performance and Dinesh Karthik's recall to the Indian team, suggesting a potential return for Sharma as well?

A: Mohit Sharma is doing extremely well at the moment. He played under me when I was the coach in 2015 World cup, and just for him to stay in the frame even now, nine years later with all his variations and everything that have come into play – it is remarkable. However, in a tournament like this, I lean towards selecting youngsters, prioritizing the future. Reflecting on 2007 cricket season, when India sent a team without the top players, it's evident how such decisions can pave the way for emerging talent. That squad, led by a new captain, young players and Dhoni, made a significant impact on Indian cricket for years to come.

Q: Do you anticipate any of the teams struggling for wins significantly improving their standings in what is remaining of the 2024 IPL season?

A: As we approach May, several teams are already facing challenges, with four or five showing signs of dropping off. The next few days will likely clarify the top contenders, but currently, I see MI, SRH, KKR, CSK, and RR as my top five. The remaining teams will need to step up their game quickly to stay in contention.