Adelaide– Pointing his gun at the misfiring Indian lower middle order after the hard-fought 31-run win over Australia in the opening Test here, skipper Virat Kohli on Monday urged the batters to rise to the occasion in the second Test at Perth starting from Friday.
Kohli maintained that the tourists could easily have set 30-35 runs more than the target of 323, which could easily have taken the chase out of Australia’s grasp even after the Australian tail wagged to reduce the deficit to 31 runs here.
“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,” Kohli said at the post-match presentation.
“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,” he added.
Kohli said India could press for a win in every Test match if the batsmen put their hands up to give the bowlers a good total to defend.
“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.
“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,” he said.
Heaping praises on No.3 bat Cheteshwar Pujara for batting the team out of trouble with knocks of 123 and 71, Kohli termed it as a “priceless” effort from the Saurashtra right-hander.
“Priceless from Pujara, we were down and out at lunch on day 1. 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,” he added.
Asked if the team was frustrated with the spirited fight from the Australian tailenders, specially Mitchell Starc, Pat Cumming and Nathan Lyon, whose contributions down the order almost gave India a scare, Kohli said the mantra was to “stay calm”.
“These things happen in Tests, ups and downs through a game. You need to just stay calm.
“Odds were stacked against them. They fought really well but we executed our plans well and got that last wicket which were intending to get.
“I wouldn’t say I was cool as ice but you just don’t try to show it. Jasprit (Bumrah) was getting worked up in his last over but I just told him to relax,” he added.
Meanwhile, Australian skipper Tim 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 (Pujara) out,” Paine said.
“It’s pretty shattering really. Proud of the fight from the lower order. A well-deserved win for India.
“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. (IANS)