"I could see towards the end of the New Zealand tour that the cracks were coming with mental fatigue, physical fitness and injuries. The amount of cricket we played over the last 10 months was beginning to take its toll,” Shastri said on the Sky Sports Podcast.
"Guys like me and some of the support staff left India on May 23 for the World Cup in England and since then we've been home for just 10-11 days. There are certain players who have played all three formats of the game. Imagine the toll it takes. It's been tough," the Indian coach added.
Shastri further stated that Indian captain Virat Kohli is the ‘boss’ of the team and that his job is to support the skipper and players in whatever way possible. "The captain is the boss, I always believe that. The job of the coaching staff is to prepare the guys in the best possible way to get out there and play positive, brave, fearless cricket,” the Indian coach stated while answering a question from Nasser Hussain on the captain-coach equation.
"The captain leads from the front. Yes, we are there to take off the burden – he's not going to each player and talk to them, that's my job; if you've got to pull someone up – but you leave him to do his job in the middle. The captain sets the tone and is encouraged to set the tone. In the middle, he controls the show. No coach in the world can do that," Shastri further said.
Although India have lost Test series’ in New Zealand and England under the Kohli-Shastri combine, overall the duo have had a successful run, with a historic Test series triumph Down Under, and an undefeated run in Tests at home. They had also dominated in ODIs before the choke in the World Cup semi-final followed by the thrashing in New Zealand. Shastri believes improved fitness levels, and Kohli’s attitude has a lot to do with the team’s success.
"When you talk about fitness, the leadership comes from the top and it came from Virat. He is not a guy to mess around. He woke up one morning and said 'if I want to play this game I want to be the fittest player in the world and compete against the best in all conditions' and he let his body go through one hell of a lot.
"It was not just the training but the sacrifices he made with his diet, the way he looked at life. I could see that change happening all the time. When he sets those standards, it rubs off on others," the Indian coach concluded.
--By A Cricket Correspondent