Dubai: A Test match victory in Australia is like a watershed moment for Indian cricket, but skipper Virat Kohli now wants to build on their edge-of-the-seat 31-run win in Adelaide on Monday.
“We have never taken the lead in a series in Australia... that for us is a huge, huge boost. This has given us the right momentum that we needed to play a big series like this. It’s obviously a very, very good achievement... and something we are very looking forward to build on,” he said.
The Australian tail wagged throughout the fifth day, forcing Indian bowlers to toil hard but finally they achieved a creditable victory that can ease the pressure and place them on the road to a series win which has eluded them for 70 years.
When Ravichandran Ashwin made Josh Hazlewood edge one to KL Rahul at second slip, that gave India their first Test victory in Australia since 2008. It ended the tension created by Australia’s last three wickets which went to add 104 runs. The Australian chase ended at 291 in the post-tea session, but the effort must have given host captain Tim Paine heart for the rest of the series.
Kohli, who can never hide his emotions and remain cool and calm like his predecessor Mahendra Singh Dhoni, said: “It’s important to stay calm. The odds were stacked up against them as soon as we got Pat Cummins out. I wouldn’t say I was cool as ice but you try not to show it. It was just a matter of one mistake or one good ball. Super proud to have four bowlers and take 20 wickets to win this Test match.”
The architect of the victory was Man of the Match Cheteshwar Pujara, who lifted India from a precarious 41 for four in the first innings to put them on the road to victory. It is the first time in India cricket history that they have won an away Test match after losing four wickets for less than 50 runs.
“Priceless from Pujara, we were down and out at lunch on day one,” Kohli said. “His grit and determination brought us back in it ... We did not let up again for four days.”
31runvictory for India against Australia in first Test in Adelaide
Pujara, who hit a priceless 123 and followed it up by 71, thanked his father Arvind Pujara, who is also his coach and former Saurashtra Ranji Trophy player. “It means a lot, He will be a proud father. I would like to thank him for all his support throughout my career. I think playing here before has helped me a lot and also the preparation. I always back my ability and I’ve got enough experience.”
For Kohli, who masterminded the victory through his captaincy, it was another feather in his cap. He became the first Asian captain to win Tests in England, Australia and South Africa as Rahul Dravid and Mahendra Singh Dhoni have won Tests only in South Africa and England as captains. This is also the first time India has won the opening Test match in Australia.
Hailing his bowlers, Kohli said: “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 be proud of. But as I said, we need to build on this. We can’t be happy with one Test match ... we are not going to be satisfied with one Test.”
Paine had no hesitation in admitting that the knocks from Pujara proved to be the difference between the two sides eventually. “That’s [Pujara’s innings] the difference between the two sides. Really hard to get him out,” Paine said.
“We got to cope with the belief that we can win this Test series, we just need someone in our top six to go big,” he added.