Shastri hails ‘great comeback’, Rahane’s influence


India coach Ravi Shastri has described the eight-wicket win in the second Test against Australia as one of the game’s greatest comebacks.

Having been bowled out for a record-low 36 in the first Test, which resulted in an eight-wicket win for Australia last week, the tourists responded in some style under the leadership of stand-in captain Ajinkya Rahane.

Rahane captained the side in the absence of Virat Kohli, who is on paternity leave, and scored a sparking 112 in the first innings to set up the game for the visitors, before hitting the winning runs on Tuesday.

“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 after the match.

“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.”

India were without injured quick Mohammed Shami in the bowler-dominated match, and Rahane’s ton – the only one in the Boxing Day contest – was enough to hand him the man-of-the-match award.

Shastri, though, was particularly impressed with Rahane’s understated leadership style, which is in stark contrast to Kohli’s more vocal approach.

“On such a big stage, in a massive arena, to come as captain of the team, bat at No. 4. When he went out to bat, we were two down for 60 and then to bat six hours on probably the toughest day to bat [day two],” Shastri added.

“It was overcast; all day the sun never came out. He batted for six hours. Unbelievable concentration. I thought his innings was the turning point.”

“He is a very shrewd leader, he has a good understanding for the game. A good reader of the game. And I thought his calm composure out there in the middle helped the debutants as well, helped the bowlers as well. There was a calming influence out there.”

The third Test starts on January 7 in Sydney.