India’s head coach Ravi Shastri has launched a surprising attack on the critics of the Indian cricket team after coming back from South Africa. While India lost the Test series 1-2, the team registered a thumping win of 5-1 in the ODI series and then clinched the three-match T20 series 2-1 to make the final scoreline 8-4.
While the Faf du Plessis-led Proteas won the first two Tests in Cape Town and Centurion, India managed to outplay the hosts on what ICC termed as “poor” Johannesburg pitch, which tested the batsmen with uneven bounce.
Shastri asserted that people in India are happy when the team loses. He said, “We always believed we could win. 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.”
While South Africa was almost a full strength side in Test series, they lost the services of Faf du Plessis, AB de Villiers, and Quinton de Kock during the major part of the ODI and T20 series. When asked about the same talking to mid-day, Shastri replied, “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. No one says the Indian team was not at their best when we lose. When we lose, we lose. Ah, but when another team loses, they were not at their best. I am playing against South Africa. Who plays for South Africa is not my problem.”
Ravi Shastri defended Indian bowlers
While Indian batting let them down in the first two Tests, barring the exception of Hardik Pandya’s 93 in the first Test and Virat Kohli’s gritty 153 in the second, Indian bowlers were all over the South African batsmen. Talking about the pitch, Ravi said, “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.”
Talking about the regrets from the South Africa tour, Shastri said, “When you lose, you learn too. What I liked was that the boys stood up and fought. They didn’t allow their shoulders to drop. In fact, they fought harder. Two zip down and to throw that knockout punch on South Africa in Johannesburg was tremendous. They never recovered from that. I was like Muhammad Ali v George Foreman in 1974 and he fu****g knocked him out.”
Ravi Shastri concluded, “What I am very proud about is that the boys fought on each of the 21 days of cricket there which is unreal for an Indian team on any tour for that matter. Every day they had a chance. Out of 12 matches, we won eight. What can one say? You’ve just got to give the boys credit.”