India justified the favouritism bestowed upon them at the start of the series, though the flatness and slowness of the drop-in surface on the final day produced a 31-run margin that was too close for my comfort.
While this wasn’t a complete performance, the fact that they have secured victory in the first Test will add to Australia’s woes. It is clear that for obvious reasons, this Australian side is somewhat lacking in quality. That they have gone 0-1 down, and therefore have to play catch-up, will increase the pressure on the hosts.
The door is open for the No. 1 side in the world to step in and deliver the knockout blow. Great teams focus inwards rather than on the opposition, which is exactly what Virat Kohli and Ravi Shastri will be telling the boys.
The difference between the two teams was the admirable Cheteshwar Pujara, who was impressive in so many different ways at the Adelaide Oval. I loved the way he eschewed the drive on the first morning even as wickets tumbled around him and focused on playing square of the wicket, thereby eliminating undue risks.
I watched with admiration the manner in which he farmed the strike at the fall of Ravi Ashwin’s wicket, keeping the lower-order off the firing line and playing strokes like the upper cut or the pull that aren’t necessarily associated with Pujara. That shows that he had set his plans in place before coming to Australia and prepared accordingly.
I enjoyed his tactical brilliance in negating the threat of Nathan Lyon landing the ball in the rough by consistently using his feet, not always to play strokes. By throwing Lyon off this rhythm, Pujara then opened up other scoring possibilities off the backfoot, another tick in the box for enterprise and intelligence. He showed what wonders commitment, application and drive can achieve and I am sure his colleagues who played extravagant strokes on day one will take a leaf out of his book.
No praise can be too high for the bowling group, and the fast bowlers in particular. On day five, there was nothing in it for them from the dead track, but they were relentless in their discipline, which was their biggest plus because pace and skill will still only get you so far. By sticking to their plans for such long spells, they also showcased their high levels of physical fitness, which also allowed them to stay fresh mentally.
I can’t wait to see this Indian side go about it’s business in Perth with its confidence high and the opportunity to tighten the screws even more encouraging.