Shastri hails India win as 'one of the great comebacks'

By Peter Thompson 29 December 2020 2
Shastri hails India win as 'one of the great comebacks'

India head coach Ravi Shastri hailed his side's victory over Australia in the Boxing Day Test at the MCG as "one of the great comebacks in the history of the game".

The tourists were totally humiliated in the series opener at Adelaide Oval, capitulating to their lowest ever Test total of 36 all out in the second innings.

Virat Kohli returned home for the birth of his first child after that chastening defeat, while India also lost paceman Mohammed Shami for the remainder of the series with a fractured arm.

Stand-in captain Ajinkya Rahane led by example in Melbourne, though, scoring a magnificent century to put his side on top after Australia made just 195 in the first innings.

Tim Paine's side were then bowled out for 200 on day four and India sealed an eight-wicket win after being set just 70 to level the series at 1-1.

Shastri said the tourists, who also lost Umesh Yadav to injury in the second innings, deserve massive credit for the way they responded to such a crushing loss.

The 58-year-old said: "I think this will go down in the annals of Indian cricket - no, world cricket - as one of the great comebacks in the history of the game.

"You know to be rolled over for 36 and then three days later to get up and be ready to punch was outstanding. The boys deserve all the credit for the character they have shown. Real character."

Shastri said there was no need for an inquest after the painful loss in Adelaide.

"[There was] No chat. And when we arrived in Melbourne, it was the things we have got to do to get up and fight," he said.

"We had a lot of positives in Adelaide but at the end of the day it is the result that counts. We were blown away in the second innings in one hour. So when you are blown away, you are blown away.

"There is nothing you can do about it than to get up and fight, which we did in this Test match.

"To beat a team like Australia, especially in Australia, there is no point having one good day or two good days, you have got to have five good days to beat them. As simple as that."

Shastri was full of praise for Rahane, who was unbeaten on 27 as he and Shubman Gill (35 not out) got India home after his brilliant first-innings hundred.

He said of Rahane's century: "The discipline, on such a big stage, in a massive arena, to come as captain of the team, bat at number four. When he went out to bat, we were two down for 60 and then to bat six hours on probably the toughest day to bat.

"It was overcast; all day the sun never came out. He batted for six hours. Unbelievable concentration. I thought his innings was the turning point."

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Peter Thompson