India vs Australia: Virat Kohli and Co's belief in their abilities was the massive force behind visitors' historic win at Adelaide

If history was against India making a rousing start, the players were unaware of it. They simply parked their belief in themselves and went about puncturing Australia's exaggerated sense of superiority in their own backyard.

Vedam Jaishankar, Dec 10, 2018 14:36:28 IST

If faith can move mountains then this Indian team's unwavering belief in itself is just as absolute. It survived numerous tests of confidence before stamping out a historic 31-run win in the first Test at Adelaide.

At the end of the day, India's win was simply that: of belief; of courage to hold on to beliefs and staunch faith in their own ability. Sure, the team underwent many vicissitudes over the past five days but not once did it lose focus or confidence.

With win at Adelaide, India became the first Asian team to win a Test in Australia, England and South Africa each in a calendar year. AP

With win at Adelaide, India became the first Asian team to win a Test in Australia, England and South Africa each in a calendar year. AP

India were so thoroughly convinced that they were the better team that not even the challenge of taking on mighty Australia in their own den daunted them. And the manner in which they drove home their superiority over every one of the five days was a joy to behold.

Indian teams of the past were never known to be good travellers. They might have won the odd series overseas but seldom, if ever, did they settle down to be a threat this early in the series.

Even recently, on the England and South African tours this team struggled to find its bearings early and before then knew it, the series was beyond them.

Not this time, though!

Here it must be pointed out that Australia in Australia have always been a challenge for India. They had never won a series Down Under; even when confronted by a very weak Kerry Packer-ravaged team.

But if history was against India making a rousing start, the players were unaware of it. They simply parked their belief in themselves and went about puncturing Australia's exaggerated sense of superiority in their own backyard.

Nothing signified resurgent India's confidence better than skipper Virat Kohli opting to bat first. It sent out the right signal: India were here to win, not just compete. And Kohli threw down the gauntlet right at the start.

Of course, in the anxiety to do well some batsmen might have tried too hard instead of playing a waiting game. In their anxiety to dominate, they almost played into the hands of the Aussie bowlers before Cheteshwar Pujara (123) batted magnificently to make the difference.

His batting was a prime example of the belief that has come to epitomise this team. His faith in technique, talent, temperament and the ability to stare down the Aussies was monumental.
Still, 250 in the first innings was not a big total. Had Australia grabbed a 100-run lead the pressure would have been all on India.

This is where the 4-man bowling attack showed its teeth. It relentlessly hunted down the Aussie batsmen as ferociously and as effectively as a pack of hunting wolves, one of nature's most efficient and dangerous predators.

Each of the three fast bowlers brought his uniqueness to the task — Ishant Sharma's height, swing and awkward length was different from Jasprit Bumrah's pacy, testing offerings. Then there was Mohammed Shami — smooth, slippery and probing with his reverse swing. The three formed a brilliant partnership even as the lone recognised spinner Ravichandran Ashwin extracted turn and bounce from the drop-in pitch. These exerted excruciating pressure on the home side.

Importantly all the bowlers had rich experience of Australian conditions. Bumrah had played only white-ball cricket in Australia during the previous tour but still knew what to expect. The bowlers put the rich experience to good use and prized out the batsmen.

Ashwin, for instance, discarded his penchant to experiment with a variety of deliveries and instead settled to exploiting the crosswind and bounce. He often got the ball to grip and turn and unlike in the past no batsman could go after him.

Skipper Kohli realising the worth of the 15-run lead his bowlers had squeezed out, called the lead gold!

Simply put, it was not a matter of just a small lead. What it did was strike a huge psychological blow. This rubbed off positively on the Indian batsmen, who were a lot more relaxed in the second innings. KL Rahul and Murali Vijay showed the way with their 63-run opening stand. But once again it was Pujara (71) who stonewalled the Aussies.

His invaluable partnerships with Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane put India on velvet before Rohit Sharma and the tail threw away all the hard work of the top order.

Still, Australia had to get the highest score of the match if they wanted to win the Test. Their lower-order showed a lot of discipline and character in the effort to make a match of it.

Ashwin, who was expected to be the main threat had a miserable final day as he lost his rhythm. He did not seem to be putting body into his bowling action and this badly impacted his effectiveness.

But, significantly, he kept a check on the run-rate as the analysis of innings' figures, 52.5-13-92-3, reveals. The pacers, Bumrah and Shami snared three wickets apiece even if Sharma's two no-balls caused no end of embarrassment to him.

It is true that the Indian team faced many challenges — from indifferent batting to slip-shod bowling. But they never conceded defeat. Instead they found the right players with the mindset of a warrior while batting or bowling and their fightback ensured that India started the series like never before: on a winning note!

Updated Date: Dec 10, 2018 14:58:05 IST







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