India head coach Ravi Shastri names 'the find of the Australia tour'
There were five debutants for India in Australia - Shubman Gill, Mohammed Siraj, Navdeep Saini, T Natarajan, and Washington Sundar. If we count Shardul Thakur, who had barely bowled only 10 deliveries in his debut Test against the West Indies before being ruled out with an injury, then India's tally of rookies equals their all-time record of six debutants in the 1996 series in England.
While the '96 England gave India legends like Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly, the 2020-21 Australia tour too has shown signs of giving India stars for the future as All the five debutants and Thakur impressed the experts with their performances, albeit in different degrees.
But who was the best? According to India head coach Ravi Shastri, the 'find of the tour' was right-arm pacer Mohammed Siraj.
"Find of the tour for shoring up the bowling attack the way he did - Mohd Siraj," Shastri tweeted on Friday.
The former India all-rounder praised Siraj for fighting back racial taunts and being strong despite losing his father in the middle of the tour.
"He fought through personal loss, racial remarks and channelised them to find home in the team huddle," Shastri added.
Siraj lost his father just before the start of the series in Australia. But the pacer decided to stay back and fulfil his father's dream of seeing him play red-ball cricket.
As fate would have it, Siraj realised his late father's dream in the second Test in Melbourne when he made his Test debut replacing an injured Mohammed Shami.
By the time, India went in to the fourth Test in Brisbane with the series locked at 1-1, Siraj was elevated to the leader of the attack when Jasprit Bumrah and R Ashwin too were ruled out with injuries.
The Hyderabad seamer, who was subjected to racial attack not once but twice in the third Test in Sydney, grabbed his maiden five-wicket haul in the Brisbane Test to help India create history as they became the first team to beat Australia in Brisbane for the first time in 21 years.
Commenting on the Sydney episode, Siraj on Thursday said: "Australian crowd started abusing me, it made me mentally strong. Not letting it hamper my performance was my prime concern. My job was to inform that I was being abused, I told the entire matter to captain (Ajinkya) Rahane. Umpires told us that you can walk off the field and leave the game but Ajju bhai told the umpire that we won't leave, we respect the game."
The Indian pacer played three Test matches on the tour and scalped 13 wickets.
India beat Australia by three wickets against all odds in the fourth Test to take the series 2-1.