Former Pakistan pacer Shoaib Akhtar has lauded Team India's effort to come back in the Test series. Akhtar is confident of India winning the series after their victory at Melbourne.
India were bowled out on just 36 runs in the first Test and Akhtar couldn't believe the collapse. But he was sure of India fighting back after being cornered by the Aussies. They made it possible without their full-time captain and batting ace Virat Kohli.
Speaking to Boria Majumdar on Sports Today, Akhtar said the scorecard of 36/9 had shocked him. "I was telling a few friends in Delhi that India is going to beat the hell out of Australia. I told them that if the batting performs, if the middle order performs, then India has a fair amount of chance to win this series. They said I was hyping up a bit too much," Akhtar said.
"I watched the game, one fine morning, I woke up and I saw India was getting hammered by Australia. I thought it was 369 and not 36 for 9. But it was 36 for 9.", he added.
Akhtar hailed the strong character shown by the Indian cricket team to level the series 1-1 after being crushed by the Aussies. He especially lauded stand-in captain Ajinkya Rahane for his captaincy.
"But you know, characters are exhibited in crisis. The exhibition of character from the Indian team is tremendous. I think this guy is so quiet and so calm. Ajinkya Rahane doesn't shout or do nasty things on the field, he just stays quiet and does his thing which is the cool captaincy. Under his leadership, the guys suddenly performed.
"Whatever you say about Ravi Shastri, Ajinkya Rahane, and the team, India's strength is not people who are playing on the field, it's the bench strength. They seized the opportunity and went out there and performed.
"Getting hammered in one Test and then coming back and winning the next Test comprehensively shows the character of the team and the management. And at the same time, people are out there to win the Test match."
India had included Shubman Gill and Ravindra Jadeja in the second Test along with Mohammed Siraj. All three of them put on a good show and played a part in their win.
"Characters like Bumrah, Rahane, Gill Jadeja is playing a crucial role. You somehow put him in any situation and he is going to go out there and perform for you. Look at this, this character has to be shown to the world.
"Who would have thought 10-15 years ago that Australia would get hammered by India or Pakistan or some other subcontinent team? Now it's happening. Now, I want to see this series full of clashes. I want India to win the series because they have made a great comeback. And they have shown a lot of character and great courage. Ajinkya Rahane hundred is just the turnaround," Akhtar said.
India and Australia will clash in the third Test at Sydney Cricket Ground on January 7.
(With Sports Today Inputs)