London: Former India captain and cricket manager Ravi Shastri, who is in the UK, spoke to The Telegraph on Tuesday.
Q Well, what are your feelings on the morning-after?
A Feels fantastic, less than a day after India’s greatest Test win overseas... Lord’s will be remembered as a defining victory.
So, you’re placing the 95-run win over England right at the top of our 38 victories outside India?
Absolutely... I haven’t seen anything better in my life as a player and commentator.
To begin with, it was a greentop... I’d never seen so much grass on any wicket anywhere... Then, (Mahendra Singh) Dhoni lost the toss, yet we scored almost 300 against an attack featuring two bowlers — James Anderson, Stuart Broad — with over 600 Test wickets amongst themselves... Then, the way Dhoni handled Ishant Sharma... Also, the win came at the home of cricket. What more can you ask for?
Full marks to Dhoni, then?
Why not? Dhoni made Ishant bowl a particular line, made him get aggressive, made him really turn on the heat... For far too long, some people have been questioning Dhoni’s tactical strength... He proved himself at Lord’s... Showed he’s not short of matter in the head. It’s the perfect icing on the cake for a hugely successful captain. The pundits should now shut up.
That we actually bounced out England makes the victory more special...
I’ve already said so. For me, it’s the greatest Test win overseas. Period.
England got it horribly wrong on Monday afternoon...
(Laughs) In fact, I was with Bob Willis on a Sky programme and he compared the performance to a horror movie he’d seen many years ago. Willis even said ‘there were more happy hookers at Lord’s than at Soho’!
Ishant got the MoM award, but what about the other performers? Hasn’t Ajinkya Rahane’s hundred on a greentop been pushed to the background?
Rahane’s innings wasn’t short of being great... A 96 in Durban, 118 in Wellington and 103 here... Had he got four runs more at Kingsmead, Rahane would have set some record for Test hundreds in three countries within seven months... Mark my words, he’ll get many more. This is the beginning.
The other performers...
Look, everybody did something or the other... Bhuvi (Bhuvneshwar Kumar) has such a sensible head and has matured so very quickly. He’s a good student of the game, an attitude which will take him far. See the way he’s bowling and batting... Ravindra Jadeja’s fearless 68 in the second innings reflected the potential he has as a batsman... Over the five days, we saw quite a few pluses.
The Jadeja-Bhuvi partnership in the second innings. They took the Test beyond England’s reach.
What has been the real difference between the teams?
The grit shown by India’s lower order. At Trent Bridge and at Lord’s.
It’s important for India not to get carried away...
Sure... The series remains to be won. Dhoni and the rest should relax for two-three days and, then, get back to the intensity shown at Lord’s.
Should Alastair Cook have stepped down?
Let me put it this way, the sooner England relieve Cook of the captaincy, the better for him. He ought to be given the chance to sort out his batting. Let him focus on that alone.
So, you’d retain Cook as a batsman?
Yes... Cook’s a world-class opener and is England’s No.1 batsman... He should just get away from the captaincy.
Finally... You were in the XI when India scripted their only other Test win at Lord’s, back in 1986... What memories?
The partnership I had with Kaps (captain Kapil Dev) in the second innings... We were under pressure, but our stand took India to a five-wicket victory. Winning at Lord’s is special... Could be a World Cup, a Test match... There’s something about the venue.