India head coach Ravi Shastri took a dig at critics after Virat Kohli and Co. sealed the three-match ODI series against Australia with a clinical seven-wicket win in the series decider at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru on Sunday.

“Nobody can say we played an inferior Australia side,” said Shastri, who did not rate India’s Test series win Down Under last year.

Kohli had captained India to its first Test series win in Australia last year and some pointed out that the Aussies missed two of their most influential batsmen in David Warner and Steve Smith, who were out due to their involvement in the ball-tampering scandal. BCCI President Sourav Ganguly had also said the even Kohli knows that the away Test series win in 2019 was not against a full-strength Australia.

“This team, the boys showed great character. Nobody can say we played an inferior Australia side. They got a thrashing in Mumbai, and then to win two games, with all the travel, and with Australia winning all three tosses,” Shastri said.

But both Smith and Warmer were in the Australian line-up for this ODI series this time. “They realised once they got off to a start, that this Australian attack will always look for wickets. Each of those 11 will always look to get in the door if they get a foot in,” he said.

“Virat and Rohit batted well, and Shreyas will get a lot of confidence from this innings.”

Shastri was full of praise for his bowlers, saying the rival batsmen can’t take much freedom against them in the death overs. “If sides are looking to take us apart in the last 10 overs, then we have a lot of variety. The game might be 130 years old, but that [the yorker] is still the best ball in the world,” Shastri said referring to the block-hole delivery which the Indians used very effectively and consistently against the Australians in this series.

“The exposure they (youngsters) get against this Australian outfit will stand them in good stead. Their mindset will be entirely different. Young Saini is quick, and if he gets it right, he’ll tickle a few. Really proud of the guys – I thought they were magnificent,” he signed off.