India’s captain Virat Kohli (L) reacts with team mates during the first Test against Australia - Reuters
ADELAIDE (Reuters): Virat Kohli hailed the impact of man-of-the-match Cheteshwar Pujara in India’s breakthrough first test victory over Australia on Monday and paid tribute to his pace attack for staying patient with the match on a knife-edge.
Kohli’s team claimed a deserved 31-run victory on day five at Adelaide Oval to become the first Indian side to win a test series-opener on Australian soil in 71 years of touring.
India’s superior batting proved decisive, with Pujara scoring 123 to rescue India’s first innings before adding 71 in the second that helped set Australia a chase of 323 for victory.
“Priceless from Pujara, we were down and out at lunch on day one,” said skipper Kohli after India’s first test match win in Australia in 10 years.
“His grit and determination brought us back in it ... We did not let up again for four days.”
Australia began the day with six wickets in the shed and holding genuine hope of chasing down the 323 required on a fifth day wicket that held few demons.
But Ishant Sharma and Jasprit Bumrah removed Travis Head (14) and Shaun Marsh (60), Australia’s last two specialist batsmen, in the morning to slow the home side’s chase.
Stubborn tail-end partnerships made the game interesting for the sparse crowd but Bumrah and Mohammed Shami broke through for key wickets before spinner Ravichandran Ashwin dismissed Josh Hazlewood to seal victory at the end of the extended middle session.
India’s pace trio have been rated the nation’s best in years, and Kohli said their ability to sustain pressure on Australia’s batsmen underlined their maturity.
“That’s a very positive sign,” he said. “We’ve not been able to sustain that pressure for long enough in the past.
“They’re fitter, have more pace in the ball now for longer periods and they understand that their job at certain times is just to contain.
“I think with four bowlers picking up 20 wickets in a test match away from home, especially with a ball that does not offer you so much, is something that we can proud of.
“But as I said we need to build on this, we can’t be happy with one test match.”
Ishant had three wickets in the match but could have had more.
Having dismissed opener Aaron Finch lbw with the second ball of the second innings, the wicket was cancelled when replays showed Ishant had overstepped his mark, one of five no-balls by the seamer in the match.
“We were all happy celebrating but he was really, really angry with himself,” said Kohli, whose side head to Perth this week with a 1-0 lead in the four-match series. “Ishant is going to be obsessed about not doing it again.”