New Delhi: Indian cricket team coach Ravi Shastri has heaped praise on skipper Virat Kohli and said that it was his mental toughness that turned the team's fortunes around after the visitors lost the first two Tests of the recently-concluded South Africa tour.
After losing the first two Tests of the 3-match series comprehensively, team India rallied back to snatch a victory from the jaws of defeat in the third Test, after a stunning partnership between Dean Elgar and Hashim Amla had put the hosts firmly in command to win the series 3-0.
However, a five-wicket haul from pacer Mohammed Shami ensured that India registered only their third win in South Africa ever and also provided some respectability to the series tally (1-2).
Now, in an interview to a TV channel, Shastri has revealed that it was Kohli who kept on insisting to his teammates that they will win the Test for sure, despite being under the pump from by the Protea batsmen in the fourth innings.
"Virat Kohli leads from the front. He is a tough guy in the mind and that makes a huge difference because it spreads amongst his teammates as well. And we knew even after losing 2 Tests that we weren't far behind. People might say anything, they might write anything but we give two hoots," Shastri was quoted as saying by India Today.
"The captain not for one minute didn't believe India wouldn't win the Johannesburg Test. That was the difference. Even at 120 for 1 he believed that India could win. Even when they came in at tea time he was very clear that 'we are winning this Test match'. They (South Africa) were three down at that time. When you have that kind of self-belief, as I said it's like a disease which spreads among the other players," Shastri added.
Shastri was once again vocal about his support for former India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni and he hit out at his critics yet again by saying that Dhoni's experience cannot be bought from market and he is a great asset to have as far as the 'Men in Blue' is concerned.
"There is no substitute for experience. That cannot be bought or sold in the market. Dhoni will go down as one of the greatest one-day players the world has ever seen. And when you have that kind of experience, the level of fitness and what he's maintained," Shastri said.
"When it comes to finishing a game or batting in the final overs, there have been very few better than him in the history of the game. When you have that cushion of someone like him coming at No. 5, 6 or even 7, it makes a big difference," he added.