Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
India head coach Ravi Shastri was over the moon after his side annihilated South Africa 5-1 in the six-match ODI series.
Not only did India secure their first-ever bilateral ODI series win in South Africa after winning the fifth ODI in Port Elizabeth, but they closed out the series in style as they crushed the Proteas by eight wickets in Centurion on Friday.
Shastri believes that after losing the first two Tests, it ignited his side to turn their fortunes around as they won the third Test before going on to enjoy a lot of success in the ODI series.
The 55-year-old lauded captain Virat Kohli for leading by example as he was the highest scorer in the ODI series with 558 runs, which included three centuries and a fifty, at an average of 186.
“You spoke of intensity, where does the intensity come from?,” Shastri was quoted as saying by Cricbuzz. “When you have a leader like that who leads by example, the other guys jolly well follow. Otherwise they know what to expect.
“That’s the beauty about this team on this trip where I feel proud as a coach about my boys is the intensity they showed. Even after being two-zip down in the Test series, for them to show that kind of character to come back and win that Test match in Johannesburg on a spiteful pitch.
“And to then take that momentum into the one-day series and show the consistency they’ve shown over the last two weeks is fabulous. Entire credit should go to the leader. Because he’s led from the front, first with his batting and then as I said with his intensity, which makes other people in the team also up the ante.”
Shastri also credited the spin duo of Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav for troubling South Africa throughout the series, and for making breakthroughs in the middle overs.
This was something that was deemed highly important as in the past, Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja had failed to accomplish what Chahal and Kuldeep did.
Kuldeep was the highest wicket-taker with 17 victims at an average of 13.88, while Chahal was right behind him with 16 wickets at an average of 16.37.
“I think even in my last stint, Virat and me have always discussed that we need wickets in the middle overs,” Shastri said. “You know we’ve got to somehow be able to attack and find ways of breaking partnerships and not allowing the game to drift.
“So that was the idea. And then identifying the right kind of people to do the job. Luckily for us, Kuldeep and Chahal have complemented each other beautifully. They bring great variety – it’s great for the viewer, it’s great for the spectator to see that kind of variety when they come to watch a cricket match. Not just batting or fielding, but some classic spin bowling.”
Shastri also made it clear that even though South Africa had a depleted side, it didn’t mean they were any less dangerous.
The Proteas were without AB de Villiers for the first three ODIs as he was recovering from a finger injury. They then lost captain captain Faf du Plessis and wicketkeeper-batsman Quinton de Kock during the series as the former fractured his right index finger, while the latter sustained a wrist injury.
“We have learnt some good habits on this trip,” Shastri said. “Like I have said this is a young side, they have got a lot of tough tours coming up and I think they have conducted themselves and handled themselves extremely well on this tour.
“One thing history tells me, I have been coming here since 1992, there is not one South African side in the world that anyone can say is a weak side. You just look at their bilateral record and they are one of the great sides in bilateral cricket.
“I have followed this game for a long time. I have been a broadcaster as well and covered a lot of South Africa games and I know how they play. So I would like my boys to enjoy every bit of this series win. Whatever the scoreline is they must enjoy because it doesn’t happen every day.”