As India made a statement by winning the first Test on Australian soil in almost a decade, skipper Virat Kohli praised Man of the Match Cheteshwar Pujara who made scores of 123 and 71 as well as the four bowlers to bail India out of a difficult situation.
Speaking during the post-match presentation ceremony, Kohli said, “It was priceless from Pujara. His grit and determination brought us back in it. We always knew that runs on the board would make the home side tentative. Any lead was gold and we got 15. In the second innings again, he and Rahane batted well.”
On India’s sixth win in Australia, Kohli said, “These things happen in Tests, ups and downs through a game. Odds were stacked against them. They fought really well but we executed our plans well. (It) shows us that if the batsmen step up regularly, we will be gunning for a win in every Test match. Collectively we were the better team and deserved to win.”
Kohli did not deny feeling the pressure on the last day of the match. “I wouldn’t say I was cool as ice but you just don’t try to show it. Jasprit was getting worked up in his last over but I just told him to relax. Super proud (of the bowlers), to have four bowlers and take 20 wickets is a great achievement. Something that we haven’t done in the past,” he said after India beat Australia by 31 runs.
“I think our lower middle order and lower order could have done better. We could have added another 30-35 runs more which could have taken the game totally beyond Australia. So these are things that we have to think about going to Perth but if someone had told me before the series that I would be 1-0 up as soon we started the series, I would have taken it with both hands.”
Pujara said that his experience of playing in Australia helped him in the first Test. “I think playing here before has helped me a lot. I think what has helped me is the preparation. Ultimately (for) winning the Test match credit (goes) to all the bowlers. The first innings lead of 15 gave us the belief batting. I always back my ability and I’ve got enough experience,” Pujara said.
Australia captain Tim Paine felt that Pujara was the difference between the two teams. He said after the match, “It’s pretty shattering. But India thoroughly deserved to win. We thought we could do it. But our batters couldn’t bat for long enough with our tail to win. I thought Pujara was probably the difference between the two sides. We go to Perth with a belief we can still win this Test series.”