Former India head coach Ravi Shastri managed to achieve a lot of memorable things under his tenure from 2017 to 2021. India reached the finals and semifinals of the Champions Trophy 2017 and the ODI World Cup during 2019, respectively. The team also finished as runners-up in the inaugural edition of the World Test Championship (WTC). However, Sunil Gavaskar has picked India’s 2-1 Test series win in Australia in 2020-21 as the biggest achievement of Shastri’s coaching career.
India went on tour Down Under in 2020-21 with a hope of winning back-to-back series. The Virat Kohli-led team got off to a horrendous start as they were bundled out for just 36 in the first Test match in Adelaide. India were in a commanding position but allowed the game to drift in one disaster batting collapse. After the crushing blow, the hosts also lost Kohli, who returned home due to personal reasons. Worst, India also lost several first-choice players due to injuries.
Skipper Ajinkya Rahane was forced to field a second-string team with hardly any experience in the bowling department. Amidst all these, India managed to script victories in Melbourne and Brisbane, and also saved the Test in Sydney. Gavaskar spoke to Star Sports and recalled Shastri’s golden words “wear this 36 like a badge”- before managing to achieve an epic comeback.
“It obviously has got to be the way India bounced back earlier this year after being dismissed for 36 (in Adelaide Pink Ball Test). Because when something like that happens, the team tends to lose belief in itself, there is a sense of disappointment and there is a sense of giving up. And that is where Shastri played a huge role because from what I’ve read, is that he said that ‘you wear this 36 like a badge’.”
Former India batter lauded the efforts of Rahane and players in managing to step up in the adverse situation. “And then Ajinkya Rahane, the way he led the side in the three Tests, and of course everyone stepped up. We played almost like an A team, not even the regular team. But every player who played in that, every replaced player came in and did well. And that again tells you the kind of influence and input that Ravi Shastri had on the younger players and the fringe players who are waiting for their opportunities,” said Gavaskar.