This was India’s worst batting performance, Indian captain Virat Kohli said on Saturday (February 25), after Australia beat the hosts by 333 runs in the first test of the four-match series in western Pune city.
Left-arm spinner Steve O’Keefe picked up 12 wickets to guide Australia to a first win in India since 2004, bringing the home side’s 19-match unbeaten streak to a juddering halt.
India, who had not lost a home test in 20 matches since a 2012 defeat to England in eastern city of Kolkata, were once again unable to cope with O’Keefe’s probing lines after they were bundled out for a paltry 105 in the first innings.
Kohli said the team would bounce back strongly in the next test match.
“I would say this was our worst batting performance and we need to accept that we batted badly and we need to improve on things and come back stronger in Bengaluru (next match venue). There is still a lot of cricket to go in this series and we are certainly sure of showing same intent and batting much better from what we have done in Pune,” Kohli said.
Chasing a massive victory target of 441, India scored just two more runs in their second innings to capitulate inside three days at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium, making its debut as a test centre.
Kohli admitted that they were completely outplayed by the visitors.
“It is something that you take on the chin. We take failures and losses as an opportunity to learn, and the last time we had a performance like this, we had most outstanding run after that from Galle (Sri Lanka). So I would say that we needed something like this for us to get a reality check and understand what are the things we need to work on,” Kohli added.
Arriving in India on the back of nine straight defeats in Asia, Australia were in control of the contest once they scraped together 260 in the first innings and tasted victory in India for the first time since a 342-run Nagpur victory in 2004.
Australia captain Steve Smith said he was really proud of the way the boys had performed in this test match and looked forward to winning the series.
“We would like to win the series, as we do with every series. For us, it is taking one day at a time and continuing to worry about our processes. If we do like what we did in this game then hopefully the result would take care of itself. But it is going to a tough road. We know that India will comeback incredibly hard,” Smith added.
O’Keefe lauded his spin colleague Nathan Lyon, who provided able support by picking up the other four wickets in India’s innings for 53 runs.
“Nathan (Lyon) and I enjoy bowling together. We have done it for a long time. We have done it unsuccessfully and we have done it successfully. I think the best thing about Nathan is, he takes things in stride, and we are willing to communicate how we can improve and we do that throughout the match. So I have got a good relationship there and that is going to be important going forward,” O’Keefe added.
O’Keefe, who returned matching career-best figures of 6-35 in both innings for a maiden 10-wicket test haul, shone with the ball after his skipper Smith had recorded his first test century on Indian soil to anchor Australia’s batting.
Earlier in the day, Smith capitalised on India’s sloppy fielding with a brilliant century to help his team make 285 in their second innings after the visitors had resumed on 143 for four.
After Smith reached three figures with a couple of runs off Jadeja, he punched the air and planted a kiss on his helmet before soaking up the applause from the sparse morning crowd and his team mates.
Smith and Mitchell Marsh added 56 for the fifth wicket and the Australia captain contributed to two more significant stands with Matthew Wade (20) and Mitchell Starc (30) as Australia piled on the runs.
The second match starts in Bengaluru from next Saturday (March 04).