The Indian cricket team came up with a spectacular effort in Australia to defeat the hosts 2-1. Despite being ravaged by injury throughout the four Tests, India managed to register their second successful Test series win Down Under, following the triumph in 2018-19.
Rishabh Pant, Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Mohammed Siraj and stand-in skipper Ajinkya Rahane were among the heroes in India’s fantastic triumph. While the victorious cricketers deserve all the plaudits coming their way, it’s also a good time to acknowledge the contributions of the unsung heroes in the win – head coach Ravi Shastri and the support staff.
How Shastri and bowling coach B. Arun plotted Australia’s downfall
Ravi Shastri was highly ridiculed following India’s ‘36-all out’ debacle at Adelaide. It is only fair then that he gets some of the credit for India’s stellar comeback. Shastri had a major role to play in Australian batsmen’s struggles in the series.
He teamed up with bowling coach B. Arun, as far back as July last year, and analyzed that most of the runs Australia’s key batsmen Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschange had scored were of the cut, pull and on the off-side. A plan was put in place to take the off-side out of the Australians.
More importantly, the ploy was executed to near-perfection by the Indian bowlers in the middle as a number of Australians, Smith, in particular, were strangled down the leg side in the first two Tests. The advance preparations by Shastri and Arun clearly caught the Aussies off guard.
Shastri kept the team in high spirits
Ravi Shastri constantly motivated the team with his encouraging words in the aftermath of the Adelaide disaster. He also played a major role in ensuring that families travelled with the Indian team. Cricket Australia had, all of a sudden, informed the Indians that families would not be allowed on tour.
Ravi Shastri, however, made it clear to Cricket Australia that if players’ families were not allowed, they would not go ahead with the tour. Thus, the coach won the confidence of the players even before the tour started.
India’s SCG hero Hanuma Vihari also revealed in an interview that Shastri never made the team feel that they had lost the Adelaide Test very badly, which kept their confidence high. Shastri, in fact, asked the Indian side to wear the number 36 (their total at Adelaide) like a badge, which was a commendable statement.
Vikram Rathour’s masterstroke: Making the bowlers bat
India’s batting coach Vikram Rathour did not taste much success during his international career. However, his contribution to India’s victory in Australia will ensure he will be remembered fondly in the country’s cricketing history.
Rathour, it was, who ensured that the bowlers also batted in the nets every day for half an hour. Washington Sundar was given batting practice even when he was a net bowler.
The move worked wonders as Sundar made 62 and 22 on his Test debut in India’s historic win at the Gabba. Rathour’s foresight played a key role in the team’s resurgence.
R. Sridhar: Some catching up to do, but signs encouraging
India’s fielding coach R. Sridhar had perhaps the toughest job of all. Right from the start of the Australia tour, India had been dropping catches, making people wonder who India’s fielding coach was! At Adelaide missed chances went a long way in Australia gaining the upper hand.
There was a significant improvement though as India’s started winning. The presence of Ravindra Jadeja made a difference while Cheteshwar Pujara and Rahane also took some sharp catches.
Still, India have a lot of scope for improvement here. The corrections began in Australia, but Sridhar will need to keep working with the players to ensure fielding becomes India’s strong suit.