Former Pakistan fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar heaped rich praise on Team India after their thumping win over Australia in the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne on Tuesday.
Needing only 70 runs for victory after bowling Australia out for 200 in their 2nd innings by lunch, opener Shubman Gill (35 not out) and stand-in captain Ajinkya Rahane (27 not out) guided India home in a blaze of shot-making to square the series 1-1 ahead of the third Test.
Rahane’s 112 in the first innings along with the performances of debutants Gill and Mohammad Siraj in both innings were the biggest positives for India in this match, something which would give them a lot of confidence going into the New Year Test in Sydney.
Not only did they outperform the hosts in all three departments in their own backyard, but India did all of this despite not having four of their main players in Virat Kohli, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav, who bowled 3.3 overs in the second innings before leaving the field with calf injury.
And all of this happened after the debacle in Adelaide last week which saw India losing the match by 8 wickets inside 3 days after getting bowled out for their record-low score of 36 in their second innings.
Praising the performances, Akhtar said India showed their real character in Melbourne and that Rahane deserves a lot of credit for this memorable victory.
“Team India beat Australia like how you beat up a person in a sack. Characters are not made in crisis, they are exhibited. Team India has exhibited their talent when they were in deep crisis.
“This is Team India’s character. The best part was that they showed heart and courage today. They didn’t have 3 of their star players but it didn’t matter to them. Ajinkya Rahane quietly led the team but his success is making all the noise for him today. They say work hard in silence and let your success make the noise.
“India brought in Siraj, he took 5 wickets. He is still young, couldn’t be by his father’s side when he passed away… He paid tribute to his father with his performance. Then came Gill, he’s certainly a big star in the making. So Team India showed their character, that they have guts, heart and courage.
“What impressed me the most was they should have fallen flat on their face in this match after the kind of defeat they suffered in the 1st Test. But they didn’t fall down, they rose up to the challenge. When teams show their character like this, it doesn’t matter which religion or country the players belong to, I feel very happy,” Akhtar said on his YouTube channel.