Dubai: Team India coach Ravi Shastri feels blessed after being in Kerala, known as God’s Own Country, where the last match of the three-match T20 India-New Zealand series was held last Tuesday.
India recorded an exciting six-run win over New Zealand to win the series 2-1 at the new Greenfield International Stadium in Thiruvananthapuram. This stadium, by staging this match, became India’s 50th international stadium.
Speaking to Gulf News, Shastri hailed the stadium and Kerala’s cricket fans before talking about his team’s performance.
“The new Greenfield International Stadium is a top-class venue for cricket,” he said. “The atmosphere there during the match was electrifying with almost every spectator wearing Team India’s blue jersey in a packed stadium. The fans were brilliant and made it a memorable match even though the overs had to be cut short due to rain. Hats off to the ground staff that made it possible to play despite the rain, and the crowd was sensational in size, colour and behaviour.”
Shastri, wearing the tradition Kerala mundu, visited a few temples to seek blessings. “I have happy memories of playing in Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum) in the 1980s,” he said.
“This time we stayed at the Leela Hotel in Kovalam, which was fantastic. The hospitality and food were excellent and I enjoyed the fish curry and prawns.”
Praising the stadium, he said: “It has a capacity of 55,000 and I feel this venue deserves to host Indian Premier League (IPL) and Test matches,” he said.
“What I particularly liked was the maturity of the crowd, as they not only cheered us but also the good moments of the New Zealand team. It was a young crowd, and that speaks of the potential for the game here. Frankly, it is venues like this that deserve more international matches.”
The Indian team coach also echoed the feelings of his team. “The entire Indian team was captivated by the enthusiasm of the fans, and everyone in the team had expressed their willingness to play even a five-over match just for the crowd,” Shastri said.
“By the time we reached the stadium nearly 45,000 were seated.”
Speaking about the winning performance of the team, Shastri said: “Our boys are playing very well. They all are working hard and are all set for the next series (against Sri Lanka). All of them delivered and I consider this as a good series win since New Zealand was formidable. I am confident this team can go places.
“It was a very good New Zealand team. They made us fight hard in every match. They put to test everybody’s skills.
"I strongly believe this New Zealand team should not be taken lightly by anyone.”