Shastri insists India want to test themselves against the “top cricketers”, a category which of course includes Stokes.
England‘s premier all-rounder is available to them again, as they bid to wrap up the series 3-0 in Nottingham, after being cleared of affray at Bristol Crown Court this week.
Shastri’s opposite number Trevor Bayliss declined to confirm yet that Stokes will definitely return to England’s winning team.
But the tourists are expecting him to be chosen on Saturday.
“He is a terrific cricketer – we would like to play against top cricketers,” said Shastri.
“If he is cleared by the courts, what’s the reason for him not to play?
“If I was in England’s position, I would have wanted him to play.”
That does not mean India will necessarily desist from reminding Stokes of recent events once they take the field.
“This team is not worried … it will give you back as good as it gets,” added Shastri, who was also able to report India captain Virat Kohli will be fit after recovering from a back strain which laid him low towards the end of the tourists’ innings defeat at Lord’s last weekend.
Shastri insists too that no faith has been lost in vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane, one of several batsmen short of runs.
“I don’t think it’s fair to single out any one player – batsmen from both teams have struggled,” he said.
“Conditions have been tough … right through this series.
“But that’s where character comes into play and discipline comes into play, the resolve to know where your off-stump is, leave a lot of balls, be prepared to look ugly and dirty and show some grit.
“It’s a case of mental resolve … he is one of our pillars, (and) he will remain one of our pillars.”
Kohli is on the mend, and was able to bat and field without any apparent discomfort during morning nets on Thursday.
“(He) is feeling much better,” said Shastri.
“You saw him in the nets – he is moving much better and improving by the day.”
Paine had been handed over Australia’s Test and ODI captaincies following the ball-tampering episode in South Africa which resulted in Steve Smith and David Warner being handed one-year bans by Cricket Australia.
Warne, however, doesn’t seem to be convinced with Paine’s own personal form which has seen him average just 15 with the bat in Test and ODIs since taking over the captaincy duties. Under Paine’s leadership, the Aussies were handed a 5-0 whitewash by arch-rivals England in an ODI series.
“The Australian way is always to pick your best team,” the leg-spinning great told Fox Sports News.
“There’s a lot of talk about should Tim Paine be in the side? He’s the captain at the moment.
“We as Australians should always pick our best team and then you pick your captain and vice-captain from that. I don’t think we should just make a captain and then fit a side around him.
“I think the captain and vice-captain should still be up for grabs because I want to see us pick the best side possible. If Tim Paine’s in the best side and he’s the best guy to be captain then make him captain.”
One option that Warne believes could be a good fit for the Australia captaincy is off-spinner Nathan Lyon.
“He’s a senior player, he’s an experienced player in the side, spinners generally think about the game pretty well, Nathan Lyon thinks about the game pretty well. Even the big quickies do in Starc and Hazlewood, Cummins is young but why not have a look at him either,” Warne said.
Paine’s next assignment as Australia skipper will be a two-Test series against Pakistan in the UAE which is scheduled to take place in October.
Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a club match for Lahore Club Cricket Association (LCCA) on Wednesday, Sarfaz said that familiarity of playing in home conditions should favour Pakistan in the tournament in the UAE.
“We will have a psychological edge over India because UAE is our home ground and we are in a better position to gauge the conditions and utilise it to our advantage,” the wicketkeeper batsman was quoted as saying by the Express Tribune.
“On the other hand, Virat Kohli-XI is a stronger outfit as far as overall experience is concerned,” he added.
The two arch-rivals and neighbours last met in the ICC Champions Trophy final in London last year where Pakistan triumphed by 180 runs to capture the crown.
“I am hopeful that it will be a good match because this is the first time both sides are facing each other after the Champions Trophy final,” said Sarfraz.
India are currently locked in a five-match Test series in England and trail the hosts 0-2 after defeats at Edgbaston and Lord’s. Virat Kohli’s men have been derided from all quarters for their lackadaisical preparations in which they played only one warm-up game against Essex.
Pakistan had toured England as well earlier this summer and had held the hosts to a 1-1 draw in the two-match series. The Pakistan skipper believes his side were helped by much stronger preparations in which they played three warm-up games in total before the start of the series.
“I have toured England twice and both times Pakistan team performed well. According to me, whichever Asian team travels to England tend to struggle. India is no different as the conditions there are really tough,” he was quoted as saying by Times Now.
“I guess Pakistan’s preparations were good. If we are talking about my first tour there (in 2016), we had reached England 25 days before the start of the series. We had a 10-day camp and then played two practice games – which helped us immensely,” he added.
India and Pakistan are slated to clash on September 19 in the Asia Cup in Dubai.