2018 was a tough year for Ravi Shastri as India head coach. The side lost back to back Test series first in South Africa and then in England. The India team had a point to prove as they needed to win the Test series over overseas. India had lost two close overseas series in 2018 – against South Africa 2-1 and in England that summer by 4-1 which left question marks on the Indian team.
Ravi Shastri despite the England series defeat said that India were the “best travelling team” which drove a lot of controversy from the media and the Indian fans. However, feels that Team India did live up to it by turning the corner in Australia back in the 2018/19 series. Talking to Shoaib Akhtar for the latter’s Youtube channel, Shastri remembered how the Indian team bounced back after the heavy losses.
“I think the endeavour was to make this the best travelling team in the world. I said that back in 2017. People started laughing. But indirectly it was a challenge to the boys saying that you can do it, you know, once we had our pace-bowling attack in place. But we got hit by the bullets. We lost a close series in South Africa 2-1. We lost in England as well, 4-1, which could have been 3-2 in our favour with a little bit of luck. But after losing those two series I knew that we are on the way. Now something big will happen” said Shastri.
He further spoke about how he and Virat Kohli stressed getting fitter and the players responded to it. Kohli’s fitness regime was a big example to follow for the other players who also worked on their fitness to be available for the Australian tours.
As A Team We Gave a Lot Of Attention To Fitness: Ravi Shastri
“We were strong and fit. Gave a lot of attention to fitness, me and Virat both and it did wonders. And then we turned the corner in Australia. Australia is probably the toughest place in the world to play. They are born to play hard cricket. I knew if we can compete here, and put it across to them, it will be the ultimate.” he said.
India beat Australia 2-1 in 2018-19 to win a Test series in Australia after 141 years. They replicated that in the 2020-21 tour by again winning 2-1 after facing an embarrassing defeat in the first Test in Adelaide. They became the first team to win a Test match at The Gabba in over 30 years.
India then went on to take a 2-1 series lead in England in their tour of 2021, winning at Lord’s and at the Oval, before Covid-19 halted the fifth Test in Manchester. The final Test match will be played later this year in September.