India coach Ravi Shastri has come down heavily on the critics who feel that India’s success in the limited overs series was due to absence of some top South Africa stars and said most of them are probably happy when the team loses.
Virat Kohli’s men lost the first two Test matches of the South Africa tour before coming back strong to win the third Test and then went on to win the one-day and Twenty20 series to become the first Indian side to win a series in South Africa.
But when asked during the Mid-Day interview about how he would put things in perspective since South Africa was not at their best in the limited over format, Shastri shot back.
“This is the biggest problem with our critics. When you win, the other team is not playing well. When you win in Sri Lanka, they are a weak team. When you play South Africa, they are not at their best. Remember, a team is only as good as you allow it to be. It’s as simple as that.
“No one says the Indian team were not at their best when we lose. No Indian says that. When we lose, we lose. Ah, but when another team lose, they were not at their best. I can’t fathom and I don’t have an answer for that. By the way, we are not playing players, we are playing a country so I don’t care what is on offer. I am playing against South Africa. Who plays for South Africa is not my problem,” he said.
The 55-year-old insisted that the team was extremely competitive even in the two Test matches that they lost and felt that the decision to bat first in the third Test was a testament to the positive approach they took.
“We always believed we could win. Very few people saw it, but we could have won both those games. Sometimes you feel in your country, people are happy when you lose. We pulled out a calculation where we looked at sessions and we were just two sessions behind and those cost us two Test matches. I said, take the positives out of that and go into the next Test match to win — not to draw — to win! Not many teams would have batted first on that [Johannesburg] track. It was a nasty one,” he added.
Shastri also felt that it was time the touring teams stopped complaining about pitches in India since the Indians did not once complained against the quality of pitches for the Test series and instead gave their best in all conditions.
“We don’t complain about pitches. We go and play and the message is very clear — when you come to my country, never question the pitches because I will say, ‘take a fu****g walk.’ We don’t give excuses; we play on what we are offered. That’s how my boys play. And it’s a ground rule — no complaints, no excuses... it’s the same pitch for both teams.”
The former India skipper felt that the team also learnt a lot from their mistakes in South Africa and those learning would come in handy during the big tours of England and Australia.
However, the 55-year-old felt that the scheduling was a worry and defending the management’s decision to rest a bunch of players for the Twenty20 tri-series in Sri Lanka.
“I feel for the players and that is why we have rested so many for the Sri Lanka series. They are human. In our country, the expectations are so high that you have to win in whatever format you play,” he said.
After the tri-series, Indian stars would be busy playing the Indian Premier League. They will then play an one-off home Test against Afghanistan in June before flying off to England for a full tour.
You can read the entire interview here