Shastri: India will not throw in the towel

Ravi Shastri has sought to defend India's recent record overseas in the wake of the series defeat to England.

Ravi Shastri: "You got to hurt when you lose such matches because that's when you look within and come out with the right kind of answer."   -  AFP

Ravi Shastri has sought to defend India's recent record overseas in the wake of the series defeat to England. India's head coach admitted on Wednesday that his players had made mistakes, but argued that this side was still one of the best to have represented the country in the recent past.

"If you look at the last three years, we have won nine matches overseas and three series," he said, ahead of the fifth Test at the Oval. "I can't see any other Indian team in the last 15-20 years that has had the same run in such a short time, and you have had some great players playing in those series. So the promise is there; it's just about getting tougher mentally."

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What Shastri did not add, though, was that of India's nine Test wins overseas in the last three years, seven came in Sri Lanka and the West Indies, with neither of those teams at their peak. The statement about Indian teams in the "last 15-20 years", meanwhile, glossed over some memorable performances. Between July 2007 and January 2011, India won series in England and New Zealand, and drew in South Africa. Going further back, India earned honourable series draws in England and Australia between July 2002 and January 2004. Indeed, before Sourav Ganguly's men drew 1-1 in Australia (against a very strong home side) in 2003-4, no Indian team had won a Test match in the country for nearly 23 years.

Shastri was asked where India had gone wrong. "Shot selection left a lot to be desired (in Southampton)," he said. "We blew away a very good position straight away after tea on day two. I thought at 180/4 there was a definite chance of a 75-80-run lead, and that would have been crucial. So that hurts. Edgbaston could have gone either way because we had our share of luck as well. We were chasing the game there all the time. But this (fourth Test) will hurt more. Because we were ahead of the game."

The fifth Test may be a dead rubber but India would not give up, Shastri declared. "We have run teams close overseas and we have been competing," he said. "But now it's not about competing. We have to win games from here. The fact of the matter is you had a chance. The scoreline says 3-1 which means India have lost the series. What the scoreline doesn’t say is that India could have been 3-1 up or it could have been 2-2. And my team knows it. They would have hurt after the last game. You've got to hurt when you lose matches because that’s when you look within and come out with the right kind of answers. But this is a team that will not throw in the towel."