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Shastri on mission to keep India at number one

  • Published at 01:16 pm July 25th, 2017
  • Last updated at 01:30 pm July 25th, 2017
Shastri on mission to keep India at number one
New India coach Ravi Shastri will Wednesday look to prove his team remains the world's best Test side when they take on Sri Lanka in the first of three matches. Shastri, who took over the demanding role after Anil Kumble's acrimonious exit last month, has backed India to continue the "fearless brand of cricket" that helped them regain the number one position last year from Pakistan. While India lost the Champions Trophy final to their arch-rivals, the Virat Kohli-led side is on a roll after winning 10 of the last 13 Tests, overcoming top sides like New Zealand, England and Australia. "They know their job. They are professional cricketers. Once they step on the field they take over. That is how it should be," said Shastri, who became head coach after Kumble quit over his untenable relationship with Kohli. "My role will be to get the guys to express themselves and play a fearless brand of cricket," the former all-rounder added. While India start as overwhelming favourites after the seventh-ranked Sri Lanka scraped past Zimbabwe in a one-off Test last week, Shastri has warned against complacency. "Sri Lanka can't be taken lightly at home. Their track record playing at home is as good as any another team. We would look to improve in the series," said the 55-year-old. The visitors have played a two-day warm-up game in Colombo with returning batsman Shikhar Dhawan among the scorers. Meanwhile Indian opener Lokesh Rahul, who scored a half-century in the practice game, was ruled out of the first match due to viral fever. India could start with three spinners and use left-arm wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav with the experienced Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja. Ashwin said the players were looking forward to working with Shastri. "Ravi has been a fabulous person to have in the dressing room. Even when he was here last time, we lost that Test in Galle and he really picked us up from that low point in our careers," Ashwin told reporters.