"We created pressure, we were not able to hold that pressure for long enough with the bat and the ball as well, so at crucial stages we could not keep that pressure on for long, and that is why they took advantage of those situations better than us" India captain Virat Kohli said after the series loss against England.
On Saturday, India took small steps to ensure they didn't repeat the mistakes made in England as they absorbed the pressure with the bat and ball to put themselves ahead after three days of the first Test match.
It all started when Mitchell Starc was dismissed in the sixth over of the day. Nathan Lyon had walked in to accompany the well set Travis Head. Australia were eight wickets down and Kohli could have simply focused on dismissing the No 10 and No 11.
But instead, Kohli made sure that he kept the pressure on Head, despite him being on 60 not out and made him to earn each run. The field never retreated, apart from the fine-leg and deep square leg, all the fielders stayed inside the circle as Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma and Mohammed Shami focused on getting rid of Head.
In between this, Lyon struck a couple of boundaries, but India was going go for the kill. After four overs, Kohli's persistence and Shami's brilliance got rid of Head and Josh Hazelwood in space of two deliveries. India gained a slim 15-run lead and in the process ensured that the tail didn't wag.
Kohli deserves plenty of credit for backing his bowlers to dismiss the established batsman instead of having a single-minded approach of simply knocking over the tail.
India gained an advantage and it was now up to the batsmen. In the first nine overs, India managed to score only 11. Murali Vijay and KL Rahul absorbed the pressure by trusting their defence. The stress was mounting and the Australian bowlers could sniff a wicket. This was another instance where India could not let Australia back into the contest. It was the sliding doors moment.
Hazlewood pitched the ball right up, but instead of letting the ball go to the keeper, as he had done throughout the second innings, KL Rahul trusted his natural instincts and smashed the ball over the covers to the boundary. Rahul had broken the shackles. In the next four overs, India added 39 runs, as Rahul took on Pat Cummins in an audacious manner. He slashed hard, defended with authority and in between timed the ball sweetly to the ropes. In a space of 10 minutes, the lead climbed up to 65 and it was Australia who were feeling the pinch. It was the second time during the day that India managed to get on top of their opposition.
But such is the nature of Test cricket that there are bound to be bad patches. Eventually, Rahul and Vijay fell in space of 13 runs and Australia were back into the contest. Tim Paine knew it and as did the rest of the Australian players. Nathan Lyon found some extra zip and Cummins a yard of pace. At the crease was Kohli, the man Australia desperately wanted and alongside him was the first innings centurion Cheteshwar Pujara.
The lead was only 90, the ball was spinning and Cummins was steaming in looking for the prized scalp. Kohli knew this was another one of those decisive periods in the game. A period that India had failed to seize in the England series and he was desperate to put aside his ego for the sake of his team.
Cummins worked on Kohli's patience by operating in the channel, inviting the Indian captain to drive or push at one that nibbled away but had no success. For 22 balls, Kohli didn't manage to score a run, as he chose to leave and defended with authority.
At the other end, Pujara also had his share of troubles against Lyon. Pujara's method of constantly padding Lyon away worked against him when he was given out by Nigel Llong, but luckily for the Indian No 3, hawk-eye projected the ball missing the stumps. Pujara breathed a sigh of relief. He too was not going to give his wicket away at a time when Australia was threatening to wrest back the control.
Ever so slowly, Pujara and Kohli pushed the lead past 150. It was a grind, a battle within a battle and India had won each of the small battles during the day. It was exactly what Kohli had spoken about before the series.
Kohli was dismissed at the stroke of stumps, but his patient knock had put India firmly ahead in the game and importantly never allowed Australia to claw back into the game when the hosts were desperate to do so. India might not have got the rewards on Saturday, but they may just get them on Day 5.