New Delhi: India coach Ravi Shastri on Friday said that they didn't lose the Test series to a collective effort from England but to all-rounder Sam Curran's individual brilliance which became the difference at crucial junctures.
India lost the five-Test series 1-4 but Shastri put up a brave front making it clear that the final scoreline does not depict the kind of fight that Virat Kohli's men put up.
"I would not say (we) failed badly. But we tried. We must give credit where it is due. Virat and me were asked to pick the Man of the Series (for England) and we both picked Sam Curran. Look where Curran has scored, and, that is where he hurt us. More than England, it was Curran who hurt us," Shastri told ESPN Cricinfo in an interview.
He then pointed out the phases during Test matches when the talented all-rounder took the game away from India.
"In the first Test, England were 87 for 7 (in the second innings) at Edgbaston, he (Curran) got the runs. In the fourth Test, they were 86 for 6 (first innings) in Southampton, he got the runs. We were 50 for 0 (first innings) at Edgbaston, he got the wickets. So at crucial stages in this series, he chipped in with runs and wickets. That was the difference between the two sides," Shastri explained.
While the complex ICC Test ranking system helped India regain their pole position, Shastri maintained that he will take heart from the fact that the side put up a good show.
"We are still the No 1 team in the world. And England know how well we fought. Their media knows how well we fought. Our fans know how well we fought. Their public knows how well we fought. We know inside how well we fought," he added.
Asked if he was distracted by the criticism, Shastri said: "Absolutely not. (I would be the) last one to press the panic button when I see so many positives. I head back home with a very positive state of mind. I know exactly what we do. I know exactly and clearly where the team is heading - it is heading in the right direction."
There had been a lot of criticism of team's performance but Shastri remained unperturbed.
"People are entitled to their opinions. As long as we know the job we are doing and we are honest to our jobs, as long as support staff we are helping players channelise their energies in the right direction, we are not worried about what critics say," Shastri said.
"We are not worried about what people will say and what they will do. We know what this team has done in the last three to four years. In the last four years this team has won nine Tests overseas," he said.
The former all-rounder feels that India is one team that has been travelling well but don't have results to show.
"Tell me one team in the world at the moment that goes out and competes all the time. We are the one team. It is just that we need results coming in our favour more often on the winning side."
Shastri also said that he has asked the team management to arrange for a couple of warm-up games ahead of the Test series against Australia, a marked departure from the team management's stance till the start of this series.
In fact, Kohli in an interview to Michael Holding had said that if the team doesn't get quality opposition and pitch, there is no point in playing warm-up games.
Asked if the team is against warm-up games, Shastri answered in negative.
"Absolutely not. Why would we be?" said Shastri when asked whether he was averse to the idea of playing practice games.
"You can only see the results (in the England Tests). Every time after the second Test we have improved. You can still get better. But why can't we be in that position in the first Test match?"
"Ideally we would want two three- or four-day games before a Test series. Now, we have requested for a couple of (warm-up) games in Australia before the Test series. But is there space (to play those matches)? That is the question," he said.
India's tour to Australia starts with a three-match T20I series, beginning on November 21....