Shastri organized Antakshari for distraught Indian players after drubbing v SL in 2017; Dhoni sang old songs

Ravi Shastri and MS Dhoni | AFP

Team India manager Sunil Subramanium recalled an instance when former India head coach Ravi Shastri came up with a novel idea of Antakshari to cheer up the Indian team during the 2017 white-ball series at home against Sri Lanka.

The incident dates back to December 2017 where India was bundled out for just 112 to lose the first ODI match of the three-match series against Sri Lanka. It was in Dharamsala and players were utterly disappointed with the result, leaving many of them in a foul mood.

This led to Ravi Shastri ordering the players to assemble for a bonfire in the evening, then Team India manager Sunil Subramaniam told Indian Express.

The pitch at Dharamsala was aiding the fast bowlers; moreover, the chilly conditions made things difficult for Indian batters, as Suranga Lakmal picked 4/17 in 10 overs. The Indian team was missing the services of captain Virat Kohli who had married Bollywood actress Anushka Sharma a couple of weeks earlier.

Suranga Lakmal nondi eduthaan (turned us inside out). Everyone be there at the bonfire at 8 pm,” the coach had thundered, the manager recalls. Players were utterly terrified by Shastri-the tough as nails coach; nonetheless, they were in for a shock when they realized that all they had to do was to play some Antakshari,” Subramanium told Indian Express.

The then Team India manager also revealed that MS Dhoni spent the evening singing old Hindi songs well into the night till 2 am.

Dhoni was singing old Hindi songs until 2 in the night! And everyone left that place so joyous, the bruise of the loss had gone and everyone knew what was to be done in the future, man management, pa, no one in India is better than Shastri in that. He knows when to say what,” Subramanium added.

Ravi Shastri’s style had a positive effect on the team which then beat Sri Lanka in Mohali thanks to captain Rohit Sharma’s 208* and then won the series by beating the visitors in the third and final ODI in Vizag by 8 wickets.