Ravi Shastri. (Photo Source: Twitter)
Ravi Shastri. (Photo Source: Twitter)

Sunil Gavaskar on Sunday picked Ravi Shastri’s biggest highlight from his tenure as the head coach of the Indian team, recalling the magnificent comeback from 36 all-out in the Adelaide opener in the 2020/21 tour of Australia to win their second consecutive Test series Down Under.

Ravi Shastri had joined India as their head coach in 2017 and his tenure ended with the team’s forgettable T20 World Cup campaign in the UAE in October.

Sunil Gavaskar. (Photo Source: Twitter)
Sunil Gavaskar. (Photo Source: Twitter)

Ravi Shastri Played A Huge Role In India’s Famous Comeback Win Against Australia In 2020/21: Sunil Gavaskar

India was dismissed for 36 in the pink-ball Test against Australia last December – their lowest-ever innings total in the history of Test cricket. Following the infamous Test, Virat Kohli had returned home for the birth of his child while regular players started picking up injuries, forcing the Indian management to look at fringe players for the remainder of the series.

Brisbane Test: India beat Australia by 3 wickets at Gabba to win series 2-1, retain Border-Gavaskar Trophy Image Source : AP IMAGE
Brisbane Test: India beat Australia by 3 wickets at Gabba to win series 2-1, retain Border-Gavaskar Trophy Image Source: AP IMAGE

Despite India not playing with their best XI for the crucial three Tests, the Ajinkya Rahane-led side scripted a comeback of ages to retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. Sunil Gavaskar, in conversation, recalled Ravi Shastri’s famous words – “wear this 36 like a badge” – before outlining the role he played in India’s dominating series win the absence of some of their top players.

“It obviously has got to be the way India bounced back earlier this year after being dismissed for 36 (in Adelaide Pink Ball Test). Because when something like that happens, the team tends to lose belief in itself, there is a sense of disappointment and there is a sense of giving up. And that is where Shastri played a huge role because from what I’ve read, is that he said that ‘you wear this 36 like a badge’.” Sunil Gavaskar said. 

After losing the first Test in Adelaide by eight wickets, India roared back to take the series 2-1, winning the second and fourth Tests in Melbourne and Brisbane respectively, while the third Test match in Sydney ended in a magnificent draw.

With regular skipper Virat Kohli returning home after the first Test, the odds were stacked against India and their stand-in captain Ajinkya Rahane. Despite losing several key players to injury as the series progressed, India fought back to register one of their greatest Test series wins of all time.

Sunil Gavaskar Said India Fielded An A-Team As Regular Players Were Injured In Australia And Yet The Team Emerged Victoriously

Ajinkya Rahane set the tone for a dramatic turnaround for the visitors with a match-winning ton in the 2nd Test at Melbourne. He was the guiding light for the youngsters like Washington Sundar, Shardul Thakur, Mohammed Siraj, and T Natarajan who stepped up in the absence of senior players and gave their best to outclass the Aussies in their own backyard.

Being 1-0 down, losing the services of regular skipper Virat Kohli due to his paternity leave, having lost several key players like Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav, Hanuma Vihari, Ravichandran Ashwin, KL Rahul, and Ravindra Jadeja due to injuries at various stages of 4 match Test series, a second-string Ajinkya Rahane-led India staged a comeback as they won their second straight Test series on Australian soil.

Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane Image Source : GETTY IMAGE
Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane (Image Source: GETTY IMAGE)

“And then Ajinkya Rahane, the way he led the side in the three Tests, and of course everyone stepped up. We played almost like an A team not even the regular team. But every player who played in that, every replaced player came in and did well. And that is again tells you the kind of influence and input that Ravi Shastri had on the younger players and the fringe players who are waiting for their opportunities,” said Sunil Gavaskar.

Ravi Shastri first took charge of the Indian team in 2014 as director of the team for a period of eight months from India’s tour of England till the 2015 World Cup. He was replaced by former India captain Anil Kumble but was soon back as the head coach of the team in July 2017.

Ravi Shastri had joined Team India as their head coach in 2017, after their Champions Trophy final loss to Pakistan, and was reappointed for the role after the 2019 ODI World Cup concluded. His tenure eventually ended with India’s forgettable T20 World Cup campaign in the UAE in October.

Under Ravi Shastri’s tenure, India reached the semi-final of the 2019 ODI World Cup won by England, the final of the inaugural World Test Championship which was won by New Zealand, and suffered a humiliating group-stage exit in the 2021 World T20 won by Australia. India also won two back-to-back Test series in Australia, while the side managed to take an unassailable 2-1 lead in the England Test series in 2021.