India head coach Ravi Shastri praised the resilience of his injury-hit side that secured a second straight series victory over Australia under tough circumstances on the final day at the Gabba on Tuesday.
“Feeling defeated is one thing but giving up is not in our vocabulary,” Shastri said after the three-wicket win in Brisbane.
Shastri said that the just-concluded series was the toughest tour ever for him and he victory felt unreal, especially after the Adelaide debacle where the visitors were dismissed for their lowest Test score of 36.
“It is the toughest tour ever. Nothing surpasses this. After 36 all out, this is unreal,” he added.
India retained the coveted Border-Gavaskar Trophy with the historic win as they successfully chased a 328-run target. Rishabh Pant starred with 89 not out off 138 balls as they ended the home team’s 32-year-old unbeaten run at the ‘Fortress Gabba’ in style.
Shastri was effusive in his praise for the young wicketkeeper-batsman, who has copped heavy criticism for erratic performances behind the stumps but earned renewed respect for his efforts with the bat.
“In his mind Pant was always chasing. You could see he was looking at the scoreboard,” Shastri said.
The coach also hailed for the entire group which showed tremendous character to bounce back after the humiliation in Adelaide, especially when then side missed stalwarts like Virat Kohli, Jasprit Bumrah, Ashwin Ravichandran and Ravindra Jadeja.
“The boys have performed so well that I am lost for words. The character of this team is amazing especially after the 36 all out at Adelaide,” he said.
Shastri said despite not being with the side after the first Test, Kohli’s enthusiasm still influenced the entire group.
The regular India skipper flew back to India after the series-opener for the birth of his first child.
“This team wasn’t built overnight. Virat has been with us despite not being here. His intensity rubbed on to everyone else. (Ajinkya) Rahane might look calm but he is a strong man from inside. A tough character,” he said.
Shastri also lauded the efforts of newcomers like Washington Sundar, Shardul Thakur and T Natarajan for their contributions in the historic series win.
“Washington Sundar was a net bowler, Natarajan was a net bowler. But they have played so well. Sundar batted as if he had already played 20 Tests. Same with Shardul who has played a lot of first class cricket but did well at the top level,” he said.
Shastri termed the series win as one of the most memorable ones, which the cricketing world will remember for a long time.
“This is a big series win. I don’t think the cricketing world will forget this. Some of us were in a lockdown for some six months whereas cricket had started in some other part of the world.
“To come here and play the way we have despite having our main bowlers injured, is phenomenal. The players know when they cross the boundary line, they are playing for India,” he said.
With PTI Inputs