Bengaluru: Indian cricket team’s head coach Ravi Shastri has said he and the Virat Kohli-led side returned to the country in the nick of time as the threat of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) started to spread across the globe.

The ‘Men in Blue’ were in New Zealand to play T20Is, ODIs and Tests. They end their tour on March 2 after being clean swept 0-2 in the two-Test series. Earlier, India had whitewashed the Kiwis 5-0 in T20Is but lost the three-ODI rubber 0-3.

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Talking about the impact of coronavirus around the world and how it was when the team was in New Zealand, Shastri told Sky Sports, “I think the players knew it was coming, they sensed it in New Zealand. There were apprehensions towards the end of that tour, when flights were coming through Singapore, out of Singapore.”

He added, “By the time we landed (in India), I thought we got out at just the right time. There were only two cases in New Zealand at that time. That has rocketed now to 300. The day we landed, that was the first day they were screening and testing people at the airport. So (we came back) just in the nick of time.”

Also read: Virat Kohli's message on lockdown

Shastri said Indian cricketers had a lot of responsibility in spreading awareness about how to combat the coronavirus and appreciated the way they had responded.

“As players, you have a lot of responsibility. That's why the message is very clear that cricket should be last on everyone's mind now,” he said.

“I think the most important thing is safety and not ensuring just your safety but ensuring safety of others as well, by creating a kind of awareness that tells people there is something serious around. Virat (Kohli) has done it; a lot of other players have done it by posting certain messages on social media. They knew that it's something very serious and there could be a hold up in cricket for some time,” he added.

After India returned home, they played against South Africa. However, after the opening ODI in Dharamsala, which was washed out, the remaining two games were called off due to coronavirus.

India is currently under a 21-day lockdown as the country fights against coronavirus.