India pacer Ishant Sharma has said that the win over Australia in the 2020-21 Border-Gavaskar Trophy helped the Men in Blue attain a different kind of self-belief.
Ishant's remarks came ahead of the World Test Championship (WTC) final against New Zealand, slated to begin on June 18 at the Ageas Bowl, Southampton. Earlier this year, an injury-ravaged India had managed to defeat Australia 2-1 in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.
"It has been a practical as well as emotional journey, and this is an ICC tournament which is as big as 50 over WC final. Virat Kohli has already said this is not a result of our sweat and hardwork over just one month but over a period of two years. We had to work harder because of COVID, then rule change happened and we were under pressure and then we won a tough series in Australia. We came back against England as we had to win 3-1," Ishant told bcci.tv.
"I think the belief that we can come back from anywhere was huge. It helped Indian cricket enter the next phase. Even though I wasn't a part of it, I felt that Border-Gavaskar Trophy gave a different kind of self belief to our side," he added.
Off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin believes that New Zealand will be well prepared for the WTC finals as they would enter the summit clash having played two Tests against England.
"I expect a well planned and knit New Zealand team to come at us. Having played two Tests definitely comes with an advantage so we have to adapt to that. In all these years, it has never happened and it is the most exciting part of playing Test cricket and we have never played a team in a neutral venue. Going forward, WTC can add context with two teams playing away from home, sort of bringing the ebbs and flows of the game," said Ashwin.
Talking about the WTC final, pacer Mohammed Shami said: "It's about giving 110 per cent as this is last ditch effort of our two years of hardwork. It's important that we give it our all and double our effort for sometime. Experience counts a lot irrespective of the result. Especially in Test matches where you need to deal with various situation, cloud cover, pitches, wind direction, everything makes a difference, so when someone who has played earlier gets to play again, it does help."
The Indian cricket team had landed in Southampton on June 3 and after that, every member of the touring contingent underwent three-day mandatory hard quarantine. At the Hampshire Bowl, the players were tested again before commencing a period of managed isolation. Regular tests will be conducted during the period of isolation.
Prior to departing for England, India head coach Ravi Shastri had said that going ahead, the International Cricket Council (ICC) should look to make the final of the WTC a best-of-three contest and it could be played like a three-match series.
Meanwhile, the New Zealand team is already in the UK for their bilateral series against England and the team will move from the ECB bio-secure environment into the WTC Final bubble on June 15 and will be subject to regular testing prior to and post-arrival in Southampton.