India head coach Rahul Dravid credited England for the way they played to win the rescheduled fifth Test by seven wickets at Edgbaston on Tuesday.
On day five, resuming from 259/3, England knocked off the required 119 runs to chase down a record 378 - their highest-successful run chase in Test history.
The main architects of the chase were senior batters Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow sharing a 269-run stand to remain unbeaten 142 and 114 respectively. It meant England levelled the series for the Pataudi Trophy 2-2, denying India a chance to win their first Test series in England since 2007.
"I would definitely say that we controlled the game on three days but yesterday (on day four), we did not bat that well (in the second innings), and with our bowling in fourth innings, we were not able to sustain that intensity. We must give credit to them (England) for the way they played. (Root and Bairstow) formed a brilliant partnership, we got small two-three chances but were not able to capitalise. But sometimes you need to applaud the opponent as they had a really good partnership and both of them (Root and Bairstow) played well," said Dravid in the post-match press conference.
"Look, I think they played really well. I must admit I did not get to watch much of the series against New Zealand; we saw parts of it when we were doing our planning and preparation. But they played well, to chase down the kind of totals they have in all those four Test matches, has been exceptional."
"They have a couple of batters who are probably in the best form of their lives and are playing exceptional cricket. It's not easy to have that sort of partnership in the fourth innings of a Test match. I think they are playing really good cricket at the moment, hats off to them," added Dravid, the former India skipper.
Asked if India were affected by playing the series against England after Covid-19 outbreak in the visitors' camp caused the fifth and final Test to be moved from September 2021 to July this year, Dravid remarked, "I don't want to make excuses about it. I wasn't part of the team then. India was on a roll at that stage. England were probably in a slightly different situation at that point of time. But they have come here on the back of three consecutive wins against New Zealand. We have had a long gap in between Test cricket, but no excuses."
"They played well over the five days. We had our opportunities, we played well over the first three days. We couldn't maintain that. That's why Test cricket is hard. And that's why Test cricket means that you have got to be able to keep putting those performances right through the five days. We were not able to do that and they did that better than us and they deserved to win this Test match."
With India going to play white-ball matches against England, West Indies, Australia apart from Asia Cup in the run-up to the Men's T20 World Cup in Australia in October-November followed by a tour to New Zealand, they are not scheduled to play Tests till they go to Bangladesh for a two-match series later in the year. Dravid promised that India will improve upon their mistakes to do well in upcoming Tests.
"The way cricket is going; you do not get time to reflect. After two days, I will be talking about something else but we will look at it. After every match, you learn something and you need to take some learnings irrespective of whether you win or lose. We need to look at why we were not able to bat well in the third innings and then were not able to take wickets in the fourth innings, which should have been done. We need to look at what we can do."
"After this, we don't know the schedule of where we will be able to play overseas. The next six Test matches are in the sub-continent for this cycle, which we will definitely focus on. We will look at this Test and be with the coaches and selectors for consultation, discussion and review after every game about what we did right, what better could have been done. Hopefully, whenever we go overseas next time, whatever mistakes were done, we will definitely look to improve them."
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