The Asian side lost the first two Tests of the three-match series before a consolation win on a difficult pitch at the Wanderers seemed to spur the team to greater heights.
India then thumped the Proteas 5-1 in the ODIs before clinching the T20I series after winning the last game at Newlands on Saturday in what was the subcontinent side’s most successful tour to South Africa.
Upon their arrival back in Mumbai, Shastri told the Mid-Day publication: “We always believed we could win. Very few people saw it, but we could have won both those games.
“Sometimes you feel in your country, people are happy when you lose. We pulled out a calculation where we looked at sessions and we were just two sessions behind and those cost us two Test matches.
“I said, take the positives out of that and go into the next Test match to win – not to draw – to win. Not many teams would have batted first on that (Johannesburg) track. It was a nasty one.”
The Proteas lost the services of a core of senior players for the limited-overs portion of the tour.
Skipper Faf du Plessis, AB de Villiers and Quinton de Kock were all ruled out at some stage, giving the hosts plenty of headaches, especially in the batting department.
Shastri though had another go people that suggested that India had it easy because the hosts were without some of their best players.
The India coach went on: “This is the biggest problem with our critics. When you win, the other team is not playing well. When you win in Sri Lanka, they are a weak team. When you play South Africa, they are not at their best.
“Remember, a team is only as good as you allow it to be. It’s as simple as that. No one says the Indian team were not at their best when we lose.
“No Indian says that. When we lose, we lose. Ah, but when another team lose, they were not at their best.
“I can’t fathom and I don’t have an answer for that. By the way, we are not playing players, we are playing a country so I don’t care what is on offer.
“I am playing against South Africa. Who plays for South Africa is not my problem.”
Shastri and his team are next in action in a T20 tri-series tournament in Sri Lanka, starting next week, that will also involve Bangladesh. (Courtesy sport24)