Melbourne: India coach Ravi Shastri hailed his team’s eight-wicket victory in the Boxing Day test against Australia, calling it one of the greatest comebacks in the history of Test cricket.
Despite missing regular skipper Virat Kohli, who is on paternity leave, and injured quick Mohammed Shami, India outplayed Australia in Melbourne to level the four-match series 1-1.
Coming on the back of India being bowled out for their lowest-ever Test total of 36 in Adelaide, Shastri praised teams’ character for the remarkable comeback.
“This will go down in the annals of Indian cricket…world cricket…as one of the great comebacks in the history of the game. To be rolled over for 36 and then three days later get up and be ready to punch was outstanding. I think the boys deserve all the credit for the character they’ve shown. Real character,” said Shastri on Tuesday.
The coach also singled out captain Ajinkya Rahane’s 112 in the first innings for special praise for the impact it had on the game.
“I think it [turning point] was the innings of Ajinkya Rahane. The discipline on such a big stage in a massive arena. To come as captain of your team, bat at No 4; when he came out to bat we were two down for 60 and then to bat 6 hours on probably the toughest day to bat.
Because it was overcast all day, the sun never came out and he batted for 6 hours. Unbelievable concentration. I thought that was the turning point, his innings was the turning point,” he said.
Shastri praised Rahane’s leadership, who in contrast to Kohli is a less flamboyant captain, but equally effective. He pointed out to what made Rahane click as a leader.
“He’s a very shrewd leader, he has a good understanding of the game, he’s a good reader of the game. And I think that his calm composure out there in the middle helped the deubutants as well, helped the bowlers as well,’ reasoned Shastri.
‘There was a calming influence there. And in spite of losing Umesh, he did a great job out there,” he added.
Shubman Gill and Mohammad Siraj, two of India’s debutants also made valuable contributions in the win and Shastri credited the IPL for the confidence that the players came with.
“The fact that they share the dressing room with international players, they rub shoulders with the best; the complex factor disappears very quickly. And you see what you see now,” said Shastri.
Rohit Sharma has been quarantining in Sydney, is set to join the team and could make his way straight back into the playing eleven.
However, Shastri said that team management will have a chat with batsman before taking the call.
‘About Rohit – he joins the team tomorrow. So we’ll have a chat with him to see where he’s placed physically because he’s been in quarantine for the last couple weeks. We’ve also got to see how he feels before we take the call,’ he said.