Shastri hails India’s Melbourne comeback, lauds Rahane

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India coach Ravi Shastri described his team’s eight-wicket victory in the Boxing Day test against Australia as one of the greatest comebacks in the game’s history and lauded stand-in skipper Ajinkya Rahane for masterminding it.

Under Rahane, India showed great resilience after being thrashed inside three days in the series opener in Adelaide where they registered their lowest innings total of 36.

Despite missing regular skipper Virat Kohli, who is on paternity leave, and injured quick Mohammed Shami, the tourists levelled the four-test series 1-1 with Rahane leading by example with a sparkling century.

“I think this will go down in the annals of Indian cricket, world cricket, as one of the great comebacks in the history of the game,” Shastri told a video conference on Tuesday.

“To be rolled over for 36, and then three days later, to get up and be ready to punch was outstanding.

“The boys deserve all the credit for the character they showed, real character.”

Rahane promoted himself to Kohli’s number four position and struck the only century in the bowler-dominated contest, which also earned him the player-of-the-match award.

“It was probably the toughest day – because it was overcast all day and the sun never came out – and he batted for six hours, unbelievable concentration. I thought that was the turning point.”

Shastri felt Rahane’s quiet leadership, which contrasts Kohli’s animated captaincy, helped the bowlers and debutants Shubman Gill and Mohammed Siraj.

“He’s a very shrewd leader. He has a good understanding of the game,” Shastri said.

“I thought his calm composure in the middle helped the debutantes as well as the bowlers. He was a calming influence there.”

Quick Umesh Yadav left the field on Monday after sustaining a calf injury but skipper Rahane was confident of his availability for the third test from January 7.