India head coach Ravi Shastri said that beating Australia in the T20I series without the likes of Jasprit Bumrah and Rohit Sharma as part of their line-up was a ‘huge achievement’. India had come into the three-match T20I series on the back of a 2-1 loss in the ODI series but bounced back nicely, winning the first two T20Is in convincing fashion before narrowly losing the third and missing out on a clean sweep. The showing was doubly important given the fact that the next major ICC tournament coming up is the T20 World Cup, which was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“Winning the T20s without Rohit and Bumrah was a huge achievement. What’s essentially working beautifully for this team is players standing up to these responsibilities," he told the Times of India.
Shastri was also full of praise for Hardik Pandya, who despite not playing as an all-rounder was instrumental with the bat. The head coach referred to him as ‘one of the cleanest strikers of the ball’ he had ever seen.
“In that, Hardik has been a natural. His game awareness is second to none. He’s one of the cleanest strikers of the ball I’ve seen in the game."
Shastri also spoke about T Natarajan, who was the pick of the bowlers for the Indian cricket team. The left-arm seamer had been in fine form for the Sunrisers Hyderabad during the IPL 2020 and shone at the national level too.
“That’s because he (Natarajan) was picked only as a net bowler. He got the opportunity and turned into a golden one. The credit goes to the team management and support staff for believing in him, working with him and instilling that confidence. He’s got a long journey ahead of him," Shastri said.
“We rested him because we know he’s got a big load coming in. We’ve rested players simply because it’s been continuous cricket and that’s how it’s going to be. The same reason the Aussies probably rested Cummins," the head coach said.
The first Test between India and Australia will take place at Adelaide from December 17 onwards. It will be a day-night affair, marking the first time that India will play a pink ball Test Down Under.