4th Test: India Back Rishabh Pant Because He’s A Match-Winner, Says Ravi Shastri

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His glove-work has often attracted criticism but the Indian team firmly backs Rishabh Pant since he is a “match-winner” and an impact player on foreign soil, India head coach Ravi Shastri eulogised the young wicket-keeper after he shaped side’s phenomenal win in the Brisbane Test. Pant (89 not out off 138 balls) held his nerves and batted with maturity to lead India to a historic three-wicket in the series-deciding fourth Test. “We play Pant abroad because he is a match-winner. When he doesn’t keep well, people criticize him but he can help you win matches like these. Had he stuck around for some time in Sydney (drawn third Test), he could have won us that game as well. He has been brilliant and that’s why we back him,” Shastri told official broadcaster Sony at the end of the match.

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The coach was effusive in his praise for the entire group which showed tremendous character to bounce back after the humiliation in Adelaide, especially when then side missed stalwarts like Virat Kohli, Jasprit Bumrah, Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja.

“The boys have performed so well that I am lost for words. The character of this team is amazing especially after the 36 all out at Adelaide,” he said.

Shastri said despite not being with the side after the first Test, Kohli’s enthusiasm still influenced the entire group.

The regular India skipper flew back to India after the series-opener for the birth of his first child.

“This team wasn’t built overnight. Virat has been with us despite not being here. His intensity rubbed on to everyone else. (Ajinkya) Rahane might look calm but he is a strong man from inside. A tough character,” he said.

Shastri also lauded the efforts of newcomers like Washington Sundar, Shardul Thakur and T Natarajan for their contributions in the historic series win.

“Washington Sundar was a net bowler, Natarajan was a net bowler. But they have played so well. Sundar batted as if he had already played 20 Tests. Same with Shardul who has played a lot of first class cricket but did well at the top level,” he said.

Shastri termed the series win as one of the most memorable ones, which the cricketing world will remember for a long time.

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“This is a big series win. I don’t think the cricketing world will forget this. Some of us were in a lockdown for some six months whereas cricket had started in some other parts of the world.

“To come here and play the way we have despite having our main bowlers injured, is phenomenal. The players know when they cross the boundary line, they are playing for India,” he said.

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