Brimming with pride and sporting a permanent smile that was more of a smirk, Ravi Shastri was all bluster following India’s series win over Australia here at the SCG on Monday.
The Head Coach, who hadn’t accompanied skipper Virat Kohli to press dos at the end of South Africa and England series which India lost, made it a point to attend the post-series press conference this time and took pot shots at critics.
The team had come under criticism after the Perth defeat for going without a spinner on a pitch where Australian off-spinner Nathan Lyon was the man of the match. Following the criticism, Shastri had said that it was easy to fire blanks from millions of miles away.
Speaking after the final day’s play was called off, Shastri continued his tirade. “I said in Melbourne… I think I mentioned people taking pot shots and firing blanks. I wasn’t joking there, because I knew how hard this team had worked. When you fire from there (India), by the time it crosses the southern hemisphere, it’s blown away by the wind like a tracer bullet. But lead, with something in it, can be pretty serious. And that’s what we have fired right through the series against Australia. We were committed, and it jolly well bloody made a difference at the end of it all,” Shastri thundered.
Shastri’s latest outburst comes in the backdrop of former India skipper Sunil Gavaskar’s stinging comment on air. Replying to fellow panelist Murali Karthik, who called the Perth defeat a wake-up call, Gavaskar had said, "And how did that wake-up call come? Because of the blanks being fired from thousands of miles away. The blanks made the noise that woke this team up!"
Shastri, a World Cup winner in 1983, was also the Champion of Champions when India clinched the World Championship of Cricket, here in Australia in 1985 and he called the 2-1 series win the biggest achievement of his career, even though he had zero role to play on the field.
“World Cup 1983, World Championship 1985,” he thundered with typical bombast. “This is as big, or even bigger, because it is in the truest format of the game. It’s Test cricket, which is meant to be the toughest.”
The former India all-rounder then went on to heap praise on the Indian team and said it was ready to jump off the cliff to win a match for the country.
“This is not a team of gods or demigods, seniors or juniors -- this is an Indian cricket team that will jump over a cliff to win a match for the country,” he emphasised. “That’s the determination, that’s the ruthlessness, that’s the mindset with which this team went to play in this series. And hats off to them to show that courage. Today I can say I am proud of my boys and I can also tell them one thing which Virat touched in the presentation that this team now has an identity to look at any other Indian team from the past in the eye and say ‘we play proper Test match cricket. You did, we did too but without being intimidated’.”