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Ravi Shastri eyes South Africa series after Sri Lanka whitewash

India had registered a record ninth straight series win after drawing the pollution-marred third Test.

IANS | Mumbai |

Praising his wards for the victory over Sri Lanka in the third and final Twenty20 International (T20I) here, India coach Ravi Shastri asserted on Sunday that the series win has injected much-needed confidence in the team ahaead of next month’s tour of South Africa.

The Indians thrshed the visitors by five wickets at the Wankehde Stadium to clinch the series 3-0. They had earlier won the Test series and One-Day International (ODI) series as well.

India had registered a record ninth straight series win after drawing the pollution-marred third and final Test against Sri Lanka on December 6. Comfortable victories in the ODI and T20I series has only added to the confidence of a side that has enjoyed a superb run of form over a lengthy home season.

“Looking very much forward to South Africa. Would like to reiterate the home season we’ve had. Never easy, no matter what conditions you play in. There were few hiccups in the middle. Games like Dharamsala which taught us a lot,” Shastri said after the game.

“That’s the challenge. In your playing career, if you’re not up for challenges, then it’s no fun. Should be a good series. This is a side which can compete anywhere in the world,” he added.

On Sunday, India produced a dominant performance to hammer Sri Lanka by five wickets in the third and final T20I to inflict a 3-0 series whitewash on the visitors.

Opting to bowl on winning the toss, India restricted Sri Lanka to 135/7. The hosts then overcame the loss of early wickets to overhaul the target with four balls to spare.

“We always knew that whatever target is set up, we back our batsmen to get it. Happy with the composition we had throughout the series. Guys who got opportunities made it count throughout. Thoroughly a team effort. Each and every guy has put in a lot of effort,” he said.

“Lot of the guys you see were playing their first game, second game, but it never seemed that way. They were confident and it was our job as management to back them. They came and did what they were expected to do,” he added.

“That’s the hallmark of a good team where we respect oppositions, and when you respect oppositions you stay grounded.”

Asserting that he does not attach too much importance to the shortest format of the gentleman’s game, Shastri said the T20I series has nevertheless allowed him to assess several youngsters for the 2019 ODI World Cup.

“There’s so much of cricket being played. T20 cricket for us, we don’t care. You win or lose, it doesn’t matter, but give youngsters the opportunity so you come to know who is in the fray for 2019. Big headache for us,” he said.