Ajit Agarkar, hailing India's resilience against Australia and England, has pointed out how the belief in the team helped them make comebacks in the series. Alongside that, Agarkar also credited the bench strength of the national team for finding ways to win from difficult positions.
India’s journey to the World Test Championship final was filled with extreme hurdles and challenges but the team’s spirit to fight against all odds earned them a spot in the final against New Zealand. India lost to England by 227 runs in the first Test at Chennai, and then there were doubts popping up on their qualification as England were shy of a victory to end India’s chances in the World Test Championship.
After Axar Patel’s inclusion to the squad, the team tasted gigantic wins benefitting from the spin conditions. Patel alongside ace spinner Ravichandran Ashwin rattled Joe Root and his troops’ defence to turn the winds in India’s fortune with a 3-1 series triumph.
Former Indian speedster Ajit Agarkar credited the Virat Kohli-led India for their astounding comebacks against England and Australia and cited resilience and self-belief in one’s own ability as the two major components in the roadmap to the team’s success.
“I think a couple of things, resilience or just belief in your ability or in your own team,” Agarkar said on Star Sports show Game Plan.
“Look at the England series at home, we expected India to win. Yes, the conditions suit their (India) wicket or their spin bowling, but they lost the first Test comprehensively. They came back and beat England really well in the next three Tests,” Agarkar added.
But in uncertain times, after a terrible loss in Adelaide, some unlikely heroes stepped up and helped India to retain the Border Gavaskar trophy for the second time in Australia’s own backyard. Mohammed Siraj, Washington Sundar, T. Natarajan and Shardul Thakur with a combined experience of three Tests didn’t let anyone feel the absence of the frontline bowlers.
Sundar and Natarajan who were picked as reserved bowlers made their debuts at Brisbane and gave the team breakthroughs at crucial junctures. Siraj picked his maiden five-wicket haul in the second innings that helped him boost his confidence after a personal loss. Agarkar pointed out that during the tour India discovered its bench strength that helped them to turn things around.
“Look at Australia (series), they (India) lost that first Test, bowled out at what 36 – losing the host of your first team players, whether it's your best batsman in the team, Virat Kohli, your best bowler in the team, Mohammad Shami, those sort of losses. By the end of the series, you had a Shardul Thakur, T Natarajan, Mohammad Siraj bowling for you, against a full-strength Australian team and you still managed to find a way to win in those situations," he said.
"So, the depth in that team – even though there was not a lot of experience – the guys that came in had enough belief that they could turn up. That’s been India’s strength,” Agarkar added.
India has lost a Test series only against New Zealand away during the last three years. And in that course, they have found their talent from the domestic circuit. Agarkar felt that India has always found ways to compete at its best. India are set to face New Zealand yet again, in the WTC Final on June 18 at Hampshire Bowl, Southampton.
“There have been some tricky situations. Apart from those two Tests in New Zealand, in general, if you look at India’s records in recent times, they’ve always competed, if not won and found ways to win with different players, which has been their strength,” Agarkar concluded.