Pant’s a Match-Winner, That’s Why He Plays Overseas: Shastri
Shastri said despite not being with the side after Adelaide, Kohli’s enthusiasm still influenced the entire group.
While Rishabh Pant’s work behind the stumps has often attracted plenty of criticisim, his performances with the bat in Sydney and Brisbane have helped India pull off a remarkable second consecutive Test series win in Australia. India beat the hosts by 3 wickets in Brisbane to seal a 2-1 series win and head coach Ravi Shastri said the team backs the match-winner on foreign soil.
Pant (89 not out off 138 balls) held his nerves and batted with maturity to lead India to a historic three-wicket in the series-deciding fourth Test.
"We play Pant abroad because he is a match-winner. When he doesn't keep well, people criticize him but he can help you win matches like these. Had he stuck around for some time in Sydney (drawn third Test), he could have won us that game as well. He has been brilliant and that's why we back him," Shastri said.
The coach praised the whole team for the tremendous character they showed to bounce back after the debacle in Adelaide, especially once Virat Kohli headed back home and senior pros like Jasprit Bumrah, R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja found themselves on the sidelines due to injury.
"The boys have performed so well that I am lost for words. The character of this team is amazing especially after the 36 all out at Adelaide," he said.
Shastri said despite not being with the side after the first Test, Kohli's enthusiasm still influenced the entire group.
"This team wasn't built overnight. Virat has been with us despite not being here. His intensity rubbed on to everyone else. (Ajinkya) Rahane might look calm but he is a strong man from inside. A tough character," he said.
The coach lauded the efforts of newcomers like Washington Sundar, Shardul Thakur and T Natarajan for their contributions in the historic series win.
"Washington Sundar was a net bowler, Natarajan was a net bowler. But they have played so well. Sundar batted as if he had already played 20 Tests. Same with Shardul who has played a lot of first-class cricket but did well at the top level," he said.
Shastri termed the series win as one of the most memorable ones, which the cricketing world will remember for a long time.
"This is a big series win. I don't think the cricketing world will forget this. Some of us were in a lockdown for some six months whereas cricket had started in some other part of the world.
"To come here and play the way we have despite having our main bowlers injured, is phenomenal. The players know when they cross the boundary line, they are playing for India," he said.
(With PTI Inputs)
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