Heaping praises on Virat Kohli, India head coach Ravi Shastri has said the Indian captain’s passion for the game is unmatched and that he hasn’t seen another skipper bring the level of energy onto the cricket field.

While Kohli’s place as a modern-day batting great is unquestionable, critics have often fired salvos pointing out his weaknesses in captaincy. However, Shastri disagrees saying he is yet to see ‘one perfect captain’.

“I have not seen one perfect captain,” Shastri told IANS. “You will have captains with different strengths and weaknesses. I have not seen any perfect captain till today. He might have great strength in one area and might be lacking in another where someone else will be better. So, you have to see the end result and what he makes of his strength and how it affects the team and the opponent.”

He continued, “With Virat you can see he is someone who is improving by the day. The passion, the energy, the drive he brings to the cricket field is unmatched. I have not seen any other captain bring that kind of energy onto the cricket field. Tactically there are areas where by doing the job and getting the exposure he will get better. For whoever has captained in this game, there has been a learning curve. I can’t think of one captain who didn’t have to learn from day one. You learn from situations and what he has done is remarkable.”

Kohli has been a major advocate of Test cricket, often calling it as the ‘most beautiful format’. Shastri feels such an open endorsement is invaluable to the game across the globe especially in the times when shorter formats have become quite popular. “Massive…not just for the Indian team, but the world when it comes to Test cricket. More than anything else, when a player like him endorses the game in an open manner where he is very clear what he wants out of Test cricket and that he enjoys that format the most. So, as a young kid watching the game, when they see a superstar embracing Tests, you will want to emulate him whether you are an Indian, English, Australian, Pakistani or Sri Lankan,” Shastri said.

One of the major reasons why India have been the team-to-beat across formats, especially in Tests, is because of their pace battery including Ishant Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav.

When asked did he ever reckon bowler’s to play such a big hand in India’s rise, Shastri replied, “Absolutely…no question about that. I was very clear in South Africa (in 2018) after we had a team meeting after the first day of the Cape Town Test. Then seeing what they did in the second innings, I had no doubt in my mind that if they carry on in this fashion, very soon you will be an attack that will have to be contended with. The fact that they learnt to bowl as a unit, you know made all the difference.”

He added, “You bat as a unit and the same goes for the bowling. You understand the situation and go with a common game plan. It is all related to team play. Once I knew that was happening in South Africa, I knew it was a matter of time for the world to notice.”