New Delhi: Captain Rohit Sharma feels all individuals showed a lot of character and stepped up when needed to take India to the World Test Championship final for the second consecutive time, especially after losing in the inaugural edition in 2021.
India will take on Australia at The Oval in the 2021-2023 cycle WTC final, starting June 7.
"After the World Test Championship (2021 final) in Southampton, we quickly had to regroup and get ready for the next cycle," Rohit said in a video posted by BCCI on its website.
"I thought in that cycle we played some really, really tough cricket. We were challenged a lot of times and I thought to come out of that was obviously going to take a lot of character from not just a few individuals, but everyone." Rohit was full of praise for the fighting character of his teammates after the disappointment of losing the inaugural WTC final to New Zealand in 2021.
"Look, it's a cycle of two years and we play a lot of Test matches during that period. Lot(s) of players have played in that cycle," he said.
"Different individuals have stepped up, putting the performances that we were looking for from the individual." In the upcoming WTC final, India will be without the services of three key players -- Rishabh Pant, Shreyas Iyer and Jasprit Bumrah.
While Bumrah and Iyer are down with injuries, Pant is recovering from a horrific car crash earlier in the year.
Besides Rohit, Pant and Iyer were the only two Indian batters to average over 40 in the inaugural WTC, scoring more than 500 runs, while Bumrah picked up 45 wickets from 10 Tests during that period.
Senior India batter Cheteshwar Pujara said the team should recognise the contributions of the trio.
"There have been many players who have contributed to the team. Some of them are not part of this squad currently, but it's important that we recognise all the players that have contributed in this cycle," Pujara said.
"It's been a great team effort... the team management, captain, everyone has been looking forward to this moment where we qualify for the WTC finals and the guys are really excited to play at The Oval. We've got some good memories playing against England in UK. Overall, if I look at the last couple of years, it's been a very good journey for the Indian Test team." Senior off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin said it is "no mean feat" to qualify for successive WTC finals.
"The turnaround definitely started in 2014. MS Dhoni had just retired and we had all played for a few Tests... and we had to start a journey of our own," Ashwin said.
"Never easy without the seniors, but I can comfortably say that all the efforts we have put in have come really to fruition over the last two cycles of WTC.
"We are qualifying for the second time on the trot (for the WTC finals). It is no mean feat. We would have loved to win the series in India 3-1 or 3-0 or whatever it is but Australia played some good cricket. We weren't able to do that. However, for the consistent cricket we have played, we've been rewarded with this final."