Former Pakistan fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar has credited Rahul Dravid for helping India create a great bench strength which helped them beat Australia 2-1. He also lauded India's management for allowing Rishabh Pant to go and play freely and that's how he won the Gabba Test and did well at SCG too.
Indian cricket fans have been raving about Rahul Dravid ever since the senior team registered a memorable win at the Gabba to win the Test series 2-1 on Tuesday. The depth of India's bench strength has come to the fore and the youngsters have done a great job in absence of several senior stalwarts. The likes of Shubman Gill, Rishabh Pant, Mohammed Siraj, Shardul Thakur, Navdeep Saini, Washington Sundar have played under Dravid's coaching some time or the other, be it in the Under-19 level or for India A. Presently, he's serving as the Head of Cricket at the National Cricket Academy (NCA).
Former Pakistan cricketer Shoaib Akhtar asserted that India won the Test series in Australia because of the investment they made two decades back. He attributed the win and India's phenomenal bench strength to India's legendary batsman Rahul Dravid for helping make these youngsters into great performers, which served India in good stead Down Under.
"I was thinking about the reasons behind India's win at Gabba. They won because of the investment they made 20 years ago. These kids that came solidified India's bench strength. This investment is paying back to India. India started the IPL, the players got exposure, and they made use of it. The Indian players learned from playing along with overseas cricketers and gained confidence from that," Akhtar said in his latest Youtube video, reported HT.
"But think about it. Who was the player that was given charge of the academy? The best Test player produced in the country, Rahul Dravid. Because they did not want to spoil the kids. He created the U-19 team, he established players in the academy, and now these Indian kids are beating Australia."
Akhtar also gave the example of Rishabh Pant, who made a match-winning unbeaten 89 on the final day of the Gabba Test, citing that his fearless approach is the direct result of the backing he gets from the team management.
"Look at Rishabh Pant, he is so fearless. He does not care. But who gives him the confidence and freedom to play freely? The management. The management tells him to go and play freely and win the match. He almost won the third Test, he won the 4th Test. The environment and management are allowing him to play his game," one of the fastest bowlers of all-time said.
"Teams are made in the dressing room. No matter how much you criticise him, he won a series in Australia without his key players. He allowed the youngsters to shine. And these youngsters were made available by the system."
The former Pakistan cricketer, who has been a vocal critic of how things work in Pakistan cricket over the years, also credited Sourav Ganguly and Ravi Shastri for their contribution for this win as he feels they have been part of creating a wonderful system in India.
"The bench strength of India with these youngsters won this Test. A system has won that India had invested in past 10-20 years ago. They brought solid, honest hardworkers, and people who were not in it to make money. They were people who cared about cricket. Rahul Dravid came first, and then Sourav Ganguly, Ravi Shastri.
"Ravi Shastri and the youngsters have done what was considered impossible. Shastri has a mindset where he showed faith in the young players and they exploded on to the scene. Washington Sundar, Shardul Thakur, Siraj, Gill, Pant, Mayank Agarwal - these youngsters did not see what was happening around them, and just played their game and won the match."
He also added that this is one of the three greatest Test series of all-time, one where Indian kids won, as a result of their system and investment over the years.
"The board that invests in youngsters, and bring in solid people to build a team, only they will get such results. This is one of the top 3 best series in history. India won without key players. India's kids won this. They showed that their investment, their system is so solid, that they can win even with all odds stacked against them," Akhtar signed off.