Team India head coach Ravi Shastri came hard at the critics who had not given India their due credit for their exceptional performance on the South African tour.
The critics said this South African team wasn’t the best. However, Shastri lauded the efforts which ended up winning eight out of the 12 matches on tour.
“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,” Shastri was quoted by the Mid-day.
The Men in Blue won by a 5-1 margin in the ODI’s, 2-1 in the T20I’s. However, they lost the Test series to South Africa by a 2-1 margin.
When asked about the strength of their opposition Shastri said,
“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.”
India surrendered the Test series after losing the opening two Tests.
The selection came in for a lot of criticism as Ajinkya Rahane, and Bhuvneshwar Kumar wasn’t part of the playing XI in the 2nd Test. Shastri who was in favour of those decisions lamented on the criticism. He also spoke how the team prepared for the Johannesburg Test on a difficult track.
“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,” Shastri added.
The Men in Blue was brilliant in testing conditions. After registering a sensational victory in the final Test, they took confidence from their win there and ended up drubbing the hosts in the ODI series.
However, Ravi Shastri refused to comment whether it was the best Indian side to tour South Africa.
“We make it very clear — ‘read nothing, hear nothing… focus on your work ethic and the rest will follow. Winning and losing is not in your hands, your work ethic and preparations are”, he said.