Former Pakistan fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar lauded the Indian team for their emphatic win over Australia in the Boxing Day Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG).
The 45-year-old was amazed by the character the visitors showed, especially after how they were blown away by the hosts in the first Test in Adelaide.
Team India were ahead by 62 runs in the first Test at the end of day two. However, what followed on the third morning was probably one of the worst batting performances in the history of Indian cricket. The visitors were bundled out for just 36 runs - their lowest ever Test total.
However, stand-in skipper Ajinkya Rahane captained his side brilliantly in the second Test and scored a match-winning century.
In a video on his YouTube channel, Shoaib Akhtar praised the 32-year-old for the way he led from the front in the absence of some big-match players.
The Rawalpindi Express also mentioned other Indian players who made an impact on the Boxing Day Test.
"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," Shoaib Akhtar said.
"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," Shoaib Akhtar further added.
Shoaib Akhtar also praised Mohammed Siraj and Shubman Gill for an impactful debut
Premier fast bowler Mohammed Shami's unavailability for the rest of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy could have proved to be a body blow for India, if not for the emergence of Mohammed Siraj.
The debutant made sure the visitors didn't feel the pinch of Shami's absence, bowling exceptionally well in Melbourne.
Siraj tragically lost his father while he was preparing for the Test series with the Indian team. However, he made the bold decision of staying back and representing his country.
He had an instant impact, picking up five wickets in the Boxing Day Test. Shoaib Akhtar heaped praise on the 26-year-old for showing great character during tough personal times.
Shoaib Akhtar also hailed Shubman Gill - India's other debutant in the second Test. The 21-year-old looked in fine touch, scoring 80 runs in two innings.
The stylish opener showed that he belonged at the international level through his impressive stroke-making.
"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," Shoaib Akhtar asserted.
Team India's win in such testing circumstances should stand them in good stead for the rest of the series. However, the visitors will need to make sure that they don't take their foot off the gas.
If the Indian team continues to dish out such performances consistently, they are likely to win the Border-Gavaskar Trophy for the second consecutive time.Published 29 Dec 2020, 17:25 IST