‘I do work on my batting in the nets. We wait for these moments, these opportunities, to contribute with the bat.’
Regular captain Virat Kohli led the tributes to Shardul Thakur's brave batting in the Brisbane decider but the number eight batsman was underwhelmed by his praise as he never considered himself a dud with the bat.
Thakur, playing his second Test, emerged as India's unlikely batting hero, top-scoring with a counter-attacking 67 to deny Australia a substantial first-innings lead.
Debutant Washington Sundar was his partner in a 123-run seventh-wicket stand as both made their maiden Test fifties in the fourth and final game of the series on Sunday.
They were not even part of India's original squad but were shoehorned into the team following injuries to frontline bowlers.
Thakur, who claimed three wickets in Australia's first innings, said he did not want to waste an opportunity to impress with the bat.
"I do believe I have some batting talent," the seamer said in a video conference.
"I do work on my batting in the nets. We wait for these moments, these opportunities, to contribute with the bat."
Thakur brought up his fifty by hitting spinner Nathan Lyon for six and India, reeling at 186-6, were past the 300-mark when Pat Cummins pegged back his off-stump.
"I have not batted with him much. Once in a T20 match and once in a practice game. We were not even looking at the scoreboard. The idea was to spend some time there," Thakur said.
"We knew that their bowlers were tiring out a bit, so if we could hang in for one more hour we could be on top."
The 29-year-old said they patiently waited to punish loose balls.
"If one of us lost focus or played a rash stroke, we'd immediately communicate with each other and say 'Let's go back to normal and do our basics'," he said.
"We were trying to defend a lot, as our partnership went on, we know there is some true bounce here at Gabba, we were just waiting for our chance, whenever there was a loose delivery, we were trying to put that away. It is a long tour; as a player, it is challenging to stay motivated and do well in the last game. The series is tied at 1-1. This game turns out to be the series decider so you do not need extra motivation, it is about giving 100 per cent for the team."
The Ajinkya Rahane-led India was bundled out for 336 in the first innings with the hosts gaining a 33-run lead.
Thakur credited the ‘A’ tours for helping the players gain experience of playing in overseas conditions before making it to the national squad.
"A-Tours are meant to give experience to your second line-up. It has helped a lot. We were here in 2016 and we played at the Allan Border Field. We played four-day games there, pitch there is different, but at least you are used to Australian conditions, when you take that leap from India A to the senior side, the transition is not that difficult, it is all about how you execute at the senior level," Shardul added.
"When I walked in, the situation was difficult. The crowd was cheering for Australian bowlers, they were on top at that point in time, but I remember our coach Ravi Shastri saying right at the start of the white-ball series, he said if you perform in this country, you will be rewarded and people will love you for your performances. That one thing was also in my mind that if I perform here it will help my team and people will love me," he said.