'To be rolled over for 36, and then three days later, to get up and be ready to punch was outstanding.'
India coach Ravi Shastri described his team's eight-wicket victory in the Boxing Day Test against Australia as one of the greaTest comebacks in the game's history and lauded stand-in skipper Ajinkya Rahane for masterminding it.
Under Rahane, India showed great resilience after being thrashed inside three days in the series opener in Adelaide where they registered their lowest innings total of 36.
Despite missing regular skipper Virat Kohli, who is on paternity leave, and injured quick Mohammed Shami, the tourists levelled the four-Test series 1-1 with Rahane leading by example with a sparkling century.
"I think this will go down in the annals of Indian cricket, world cricket, as one of the great comebacks in the history of the game," Shastri told a video conference on Tuesday.
"To be rolled over for 36, and then three days later, to get up and be ready to punch was outstanding.
"The boys deserve all the credit for the character they showed, real character."
Rahane promoted himself to Kohli's number four position and struck the only century in the bowler-dominated contest, which also earned him the player-of-the-match award.
"It was probably the toughest day -- because it was overcast all day and the sun never came out -- and he batted for six hours, unbelievable concentration. I thought that was the turning point."
In a year marred by the COVID-19 pandemic, a victory like this would certainly bring smiles on the faces of Indian fans, feels Shastri.
"I think it's a great present from the team for the millions of fans around the world to have a happy new year, bringing some smiles on the faces going into the New Year," he said.
Shastri felt Rahane's quiet leadership, which contrasts Kohli's animated captaincy, helped the bowlers and debutants Shubman Gill and Mohammed Siraj.
"He's a very shrewd leader. He has a good understanding of the game," Shastri said.
"I thought his calm composure in the middle helped the debutantes as well as the bowlers. He was a calming influence there."
Fearless cricket has been the mantra of a Virat Kohli-led unit for long and the team led by Ajinkya Rahane didn't deviate from the script.
"That's the brand of cricket we have been playing for the last three or four years."
He was effusive in his praise for Shubman Gill, who scored 45 and 35 not out and Siraj, who had a match haul of five wickets.
"When you saw these two debutantes show that kind of flair, discipline and maturity, it was great. Today Siraj's numbers were outstanding.
"...the discipline he showed while bowling long spells and that too in his first Test match and doing the job he had to do in the absence of Umesh, it was outstanding."
With Gill, he was impressed with the intent shown by the youngster in not getting into a shell.
"I thought he (Gill) looked very calm and mature for someone playing his first Test. He wasn't afraid to play his shots as it is easy to get into a shell," said Shastri.
"I think a lot has got to do with IPL. They share the dressing room with international players and rub shoulders with the best. That complex factor disappears very quickly."
The coach also felt that Rishabh Pant's 29 was worth much more in the larger context of the match and he wouldn't like to be too critical of the young man throwing it away once again.
"I thought he was very, very good in this innings and any batsman can make a mistake. I thought the discipline he showed, the ability to counter-attack in the runs he made and to move the game forward was a huge, huge plus.
"He may have got 29 but there was a lot more than 29 in it," the coach said.
The bowling unit has been on the money for at least three years now and Shastri agreed.
"Outstanding. The discipline and calmness was for everyone to see. Execution of plans as to what was set out for them, it was a remarkable ...."
The Indian team has let a lot of opposition tails wag in the past. Asked what was the post-play chatter after Australia finished on 133 for 6 on Monday, the coach gave a tongue-in-cheek reply.
"What you saw today."
"Discipline, accuracy and patience. Being prepared to be patient even if they batted a session. Be prepared to chase down even 150 if needed.
"Think as if you have to take 10 wickets rather than 4 wickets."
Shastri didn't give any excuses for the Adelaide debacle even though India had better of the exchanges in the first two days save the one hour on the third morning that tilted the game decisively.
"We had a lot of positives in Adelaide but at the end of the day it's the result that counts. We were blown away in the second innings in one hour.
"So when you are blown away, you are blown away. There's nothing you can do about it but to get up and fight," he concluded.