India might have lost the Test series in England but coach Ravi Shastri believes that the current crop of players are travelling much better than the teams of the last 15-20 years. Earlier, India lost the fourth Test at Southampton by 62 runs as England took an unassailable 3-1 lead in the five-match series. However, the Indian coach stated that his team tried hard and played better overseas than Indian teams of last 15-20 years
“As hard as our guys tried, England were one-up on us there. Nothing to take away (from them), the endeavour of this team is to travel well, compete and win. If you look at the last three years, we have won nine matches overseas and three series (against West Indies and twice in Sri Lanka),” Shastri said while addressing the media on Wednesday.
“I can’t see any other Indian team in the last 15-20 years that has had the same run in such a short time, and you have had some great players playing in those series. So the promise is there, and it’s just about getting tougher mentally. You have got to hurt when you lose matches because that’s when you look within and come out with the right kind of answers to combat such situations and get past the finishing line. One day you will if you believe,” PTI quoted Shastri as saying.
Emphasising the need of mental fortitude the Indian head coach said, “I think you have got to get tough mentally. We have run teams close overseas and we have competed. But now it’s not about competing (any longer). We have to win games from here onwards. Now the endeavour is to understand where you made the mistakes, take it head on and try to correct it.”
“The scoreline says 3-1, which means India, have lost the series. What the scoreline doesn’t say that India could have been 3-1 or it could have been 2-2, and my teams knows it. They would have been hurt and rightly so after the last game. But this is a team that will not throw in the towel,” Shastri remarked.
Talking about what the batsmen, he said, “I think shot selection left a lot to be desired. We blew away a very good position straight away after tea on day two (in Southampton). That’s an area where you can tighten, and be aware of what the team needs. Being aware of the match situation will be a big help. I think that was crucial more than anything else.”
Crediting Moeen Ali for his match-winning spell in the fourth Test, Shastri said, “You have to give credit to Moeen Ali there on the last day. To be honest, he bowled magnificently. I think it’s straightforward (difference between them) – very simple, very obvious, it was there for everyone to see. Moeen hit those patches more than Ashwin, as simple as that.”
He also lauded Cheteshwar Pujara for his brilliant effort in the first innings. “Pujara’s was an absolutely khadoos (stubborn/strict) innings. You obviously need the top order to give you a start but if you look at both sides its not been easy for the top order. The bowling has been good, really good, and it’s been a challenge and it is how you overcome that challenge,” Shastri said.
“In the prevailing situation, the kind of pitches we’re playing on, the amount of movement there is with the Dukes ball – it’s challenging for the batsmen. It’s not just us; even batsmen from the other side have struggled. When you are set, you need to capitalize,” he added.
Shastri also paid a rich tribute to the former England skipper Alastair Cook who debuted against India at Nagpur in 2006.
“I saw his first Test match, saw him getting a hundred in Nagpur. He’s been one of England’s greatest cricketers – no question. He always came across a mentally tough bloke, real tough cookie. As far as I am concerned, there were times in his career when he batted where he did look the master chef,” he concluded.