Brisbane, January 20
There were smiles, lots of whistles and a round of applause to each other every few seconds as India coach Ravi Shastri got down to commending the “courage, resolve and spirit” of his wounded warriors in a stirring dressing-room speech after the conquest at the Gabba.
It was a little-over-three-minute speech that Shastri delivered after his injury-ravaged side chased down an imposing 328 in the fourth and final Test to hand Australia their first loss in 32 years at ‘Fortress Gabba’ to retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy in style.
“The courage, the resolve, the spirit, that you guys have shown is unreal. Not for once you were down, injuries, 36 all out (in the first Test), you had the self-belief in you,” an emotional Shastri said with captain Ajinkya Rahane standing calmly by his side.
“It doesn’t come overnight but now that you have this self-belief, you can see where you have taken a game as a team. Today, forget India, the whole world will stand up and salute you.
“So remember what you guys have done today. You need to enjoy this moment, don’t let it just go away, enjoy as much as you can,” he advised the young team.
Batting mainstay Cheteshwar Pujara, who took blows to his body but stayed firm, match-winner Rishabh Pant’s extraordinary strokeplay, and young opener Shubman Gill’s calm counter-attack drew special appreciation from Shastri.
“It started in Melbourne. Sydney was fantastic, it allowed us to come here even-steven. And to pull off something (like this) today was simply outstanding,” said Shastri.
“Shubman great, great. Puji you will be known as the ultimate warrior,” said Shastri to whistles, especially from young pacer Mohammed Siraj, and applause from the team.
“And Rishabh, simply outstanding. The way you were batting, you gave heart attacks to a few every moment but what you have done is magnificent,” he added as the keeper-batsman looked on with a childlike grin on his face.
The man who continued to be resolutely calm amid the obvious excitement was Rahane and he nodded in acceptance as Shastri acknowledged his leadership.
“Jinx to lead the side from the position where we were and to make them bounce back and control things in the middle like the way you have done is simply, simply, brilliant,” said the 58-year-old former all-rounder.
And finally, Shastri applauded T Natarajan, the net bowler who became a front-liner, and the duo of Washington Sundar and Shardul Thakur, the men who made as much difference with the bat as with the ball.
“…in this Test match, I would not want to forget is three debutants and their performances in that first innings. Nattu, Washi and I say Shardul because he was injured in the first Test he played (in 2018).
“For you to show that spirit, that’s what broke the back of Australia, more than anything else, that we could come back and get 330 or 340 on this wicket after being 180/6,” he said.
India will take on England in their next Test assignment scheduled to start from February 5. PTI