Kolkata: India were one of the favourites to win the 2019 World Cup till a 15-minute spell from the New Zealand fast bowlers in Manchester changed everything and the world came crashing down for the Men in Blue in the semi-final stages of the showpiece event.
Things could have easily gone downhill from there had it not been for the guidance of head coach Ravi Shastri. He has used the stick in the last few years as much as he has patted the back of the players when the morale has been down and today this Indian team is often compared to the legendary Windies unit in the 1970s and 1980s.
Speaking to IANS after completing another series whitewash, this time against Bangladesh, Shastri threw light on what made him believe that this team could be world beaters, how talents like Rishabh Pant need to be backed and most importantly the joy of seeing a former cricketer take over as BCCI President in Sourav Ganguly.
The World Cup exit was a bitter pill to swallow and Shastri says it has been amazing how the boys decided to not let that dishearten them and have only grown in strength from that fateful day Â- July 9.
"For me, the intensity shown by this team is fabulous. The way they have bounced back after those 15 minutes in Manchester. That was a bitter pill to swallow and hurt one and all.
But then, the ferocity and intensity they have shown after that in the last three months is unbelievable. This is remarkable and that is why I say if you look back 5-6 years, this will have to be one of the most consistent Indian teams ever across all formats," he said.
The past can't be changed, but the road ahead has the World T20 in 2020 and winning that will go a long way in establishing the invincibility tag that has been given to this team under skipper Virat Kohli.
The present Indian team has moved from strength to strength under Shastri and Kohli and now we have another former captain coming into the BCCI as President in Ganguly.
The loudest cheer at the Eden Gardens was actually saved for when the two men — Shastri and Ganguly — shook hands after the win on the third afternoon.
"I think it is fantastic. I was one of the first to congratulate him when he became the President because I was delighted that more important than anything a BCCI was back in place to put Indian cricket where it belongs both on and off the field.”