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Virat Kohli’s attitude key to India’s win in Johannesburg Test, says Ravi Shastri

Ravi Shastri was all praise for Indian cricket team skipper Virat Kohli and the returning Suresh Raina ahead of the T20 tri-series against Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

cricket Updated: Mar 03, 2018 16:38 IST
Ankit Kumar Singh
Ankit Kumar Singh
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
Virat Kohli,Johannesburg Test,Ravi Shastri
Ravi Shastri said Virat Kohli’s positive attitude guided the Indian cricket team to victory over South Africa in Johannesburg. (PTI)

Team India head coach Ravi Shastri has credited captain Virat Kohli for helping the Indian cricket team pull off a great comeback after tasting defeats in the first Two Tests on South African tour. In Shastri’s opinion, it was Kohli’s mental toughness and attitude that inspired the visitors to beat the hosts in the third Test in Johannesburg which marked the beginning of India’s dominance for the rest of the tour.

After salvaging a win in Johannesburg, India looked a better team in the ensuing limited-overs series as they went on to clinch six-match ODI series 5-1 and three-match T20I showdown 2-1.

In an interview to a TV channel, Shastri has now described as to how Kohli’s self-belief and leadership ability brought a change in the fortunes of the team.

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“Virat Kohli leads from the front. He is a tough guy in the mind and that makes a huge difference because it spreads amongst his teammates as well. And we knew even after losing 2 Tests that we weren’t far behind. People might say anything, they might write anything but we give two hoots,” Shastri said while speaking to India Today.

South Africa were chasing only 241 in the third Test and when they had reached 124 for 1, whitewashed loomed for Kohli and Co. However, an inspired bowling spell from Mohammed Shami (5/28) sparked a collapse that saw the hosts lose their last nine wickets for only 53 runs and hand over the visitors a face-saving, 63-run win.

Shastri said Kohli was always confident of India pulling off a win during the fourth innings and it was this never-to-say-die spirit that inspired others around him.

“Even at 120 for 1 he believed that India could win. When you have that kind of self-belief, as I said it’s like a disease which spreads among the other players,” Shastri said.

SPECIAL PRAISE FOR RAINA, DHONI

Shastri was all praise for Suresh Raina who made a comeback to Indian limited-overs team in South Africa. The 31-year-old southpaw justified his inclusion in the team as he produced the match-winning performance in the third and final T20I to walk away with the man-of-the-match award. The head coach referred to Raina as a fearless cricketer.

“He’s vastly experienced and he showed what experience can do. What I liked the best was he was fearless,” Shastri was quoted as saying by India Today.

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“What I liked was the intent because normally when you come back into a side after a long period of time you can be playing for your place. And that can put added pressure on you. But he went out there as if he was never out of the side and batted in that fashion. It was very good to see.”

Shastri also came out in the support of former Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni saying the experienced wicketkeeper batsman is an asset for the team. Dhoni, known as the one of the best finishers to have ever played the game, has of late received some criticism from cricket experts and former players who believe his reflexes have weakened and he is no longer the finisher he was. Shastri, though, backed Dhoni to the hilt and said his experience is indispensable for the current team.

“There is no substitute for experience. That cannot be bought or sold in the market. Dhoni will go down as one of the greatest one-day players the world has ever seen. And when you have that kind of experience, the level of fitness and what he’s maintained,” he said.

First Published: Mar 03, 2018 11:59 IST