'This will go down in history': India coach Shastri hails 'unimaginable' win

By on January 19, 2021

An injury-ravaged India’s 2-1 triumph in Australia under a stand-in captain will go down as one of the greatest series ever played, coach Ravi Shastri said on Tuesday.

India were bundled out for a record low of 36 in Adelaide and regular captain Virat Kohli left a demoralised team behind him as he returned home to attend the birth of his daughter.

Under Ajinkya Rahane, India levelled the series in Melbourne and drew in Sydney but had lost their entire frontline bowling attack to injuries by the time they arrived in Brisbane.

Washington Sundar and T Natarajan, retained as net bowlers, made their Test debuts, helping India pull off a series victory for the ages after prevailing by three wickets in the decider.

“I’m not someone who really has tears in my eyes but I had real tears because this is unreal,” Shastri said. “The penny has still not dropped, and it will take a long time to drop. Unreal.”

Rishabh Pant then smashed an unbeaten 89 to complete a memorable series victory for the tourists. “What these guys have pulled off will go down in history as one of the greatest series ever played,” Shastri said. “When you take the Covid situation and the spate of injuries into account, showing stomach for a fight after being bowled out for 36 is unimaginable.”

The challenges of living in a biosecure bubble and the spate of injuries made it the toughest tour he could remember, said the former Test player. “This is the toughest tour ever. We’re playing in Covid times, quarantine times and with the multiple injuries – nothing comes close. It surpasses all.”

The celebrations begin at the Gabba. Photograph: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images

Rahane inspired India’s comeback with a captain’s century in Melbourne and the Mumbaikar was his modest best after the win. “I was emotional too. I still don’t know what happened and don’t know how to describe this,” said Rahane, who gifted a signed India jersey to Australia’s Nathan Lyon on the spinner’s 100th test after the match.

Pant labelled his series-winning innings “one of the biggest moments” of his life after India inflicted a first defeat on Australia at the Gabba since 1988. “This is one of the biggest moments of my life now,” Pant said, quoted by espncricinfo.com. “It’s been a dream series. The team management always back me and tells me ‘you are a match-winner’ and I keep thinking every day that I want to win matches for India and I did it today.”

Kohli took to Twitter to hail his teammates, posting: “WHAT A WIN!!! Yessssss. To everyone who doubted us after Adelaide, stand up and take notice. Exemplary performance but the grit and determination was the standout for us the whole way. Well done to all the boys and the management. Enjoy this historic feat lads. Cheers.”

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Defeat for Australia and their captain Tim Paine added to the disappointment of the third Test, where they failed to bowl out India for victory on day five. After another final day to forget, the wicketkeeper conceded they need to review how they handle the pressure.

Paine said: “Absolutely disappointed. We came here to win the Test and win the series. It’s been a bit of a trend that we were found wanting in the key moments and completely outplayed by a tough Indian side that fully deserves the win. I think there’s lots of things we’ll look back at, but what’s done is done. We need to look forward now. There’s a big series in South Africa coming up. We’ve been outplayed by the better side in this series.”

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