Flash of interest: Ravi Shastri will mentor Roger Federer in IPTL. But will he also report to co-owner Virat Kohli?


Ravi Shastri and Virat Kohli have become part of a common venture ‘unrelated’ to cricket, yet, rabble-rousers are convinced there is a clash of interest.

How’s that? Pray, tell.

Kohli is a co-owner, and Shastri an advisor, of UAE Royals, the International Premier Tennis League (IPTL) franchise.  In whose imagination is there a conflict? Tennis is primarily an individual sport. The concept of team is missing, which is exactly why Shaz was roped in. The former India captain’s track record in team management and branding is immaculate. He has the personality, the respect, the presence, and the wisdom, to transform individualistic-minded tennis players into a ‘playing unit’. He was already an important mentoring figure in the early 1990s.

It was a business decision taken by UAE Royals owners, nothing else.

Kohli has the money, so he invested. He invested in UAE Royals because his research, analysis, and consultation told him that they were the best bet to win the title.

Conflict of interest would have arisen if Virat happened to be the Indian tennis captain.

Let’s raise some relevant issues instead, like what can be done to keep politicians away from the game, and how best to inspire former greats to return to the game in mentoring roles.


Cricket is a different matter. Here, the Kohli-Shastri tag team could spell disaster!

On cricket-related matters, the bond between Shastri and Kohli could prove to be a problem, if not checked in time.

Sanjay Manjrekar, known for his SimpleSpeak, raised a valid observation when he held Shastri responsible for fostering unrestrained aggression in the team. Healthy aggression is one thing, ugly confrontation entirely another. Kohli is accountable, too.

An ‘Ishant Sharma’ will happen every time a player crosses the line. Because of Ishant’s vulgar display of joy, and the consequent ban, India will miss his services in the first Test against South Africa. Kohli could have calmed him down, but perhaps, he identified with him.


Every time a player gets out, he is devastated, is emotionally weak and vulnerable. What Ishant did could have landed him injured. A player who has just gotten out, if ridiculed and laughed at, can physically attack the perpetrator because he is not really steady. As skipper, it was Kohli’s job to rein Sharma in. This is where one misses MS Dhoni. His calming influence rubbed on to the others.

Kohli’s loud display of aggression has landed the skipper in soup multiple times. Shastri is also popular for his belligerence from time to time.

Can we really afford two hot-heads at the helm?


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