Before the first Test began in Pune, Australia had been written off by almost all pundits. The team had arrived as a side that lacked aggression, going through a poor run of form and had the numbers stacked against them. However, what unfolded over the past two-and-a-half-days, was something no one had predicted.
India play the next Test in Bengaluru which is home to Anil Kumble and second home to Virat Kohli. And the former will have to ensure that the latter’s aggression is brought back in the right tone. This was Kohli’s worst Test at home in terms of runs but it will be even more challenging to see how he and the Indian coaching staff react to the Pune defeat.
This Australian side won’t let go of the tiniest opportunity that come their way. And as India look to regroup, it’s their mental strength that will be tested. It’s not that Kohli and Kumble have not tasted defeats before. But in their current avatars of captain and coach, it’s the first time. The key will be to quickly overcome the mental scars and put behind the disappointment.
Kohli had put up a brave face at the media interaction after the match. “You can ask me any sort of question or any perception about the loss,” he said. “We know exactly what happened, the mistakes that we made. External perceptions don’t matter to us; they have never mattered to us. We played good cricket that’s why we won, we played bad cricket and that’s we lost. That’s how simply we look at this defeat.”
However, deep down, India will be fully aware that this won’t be as simple as the captain makes it sound. The visitors have the capability to create problems they didn’t have to face against England, New Zealand or Bangladesh.
Australia’s game plan has been precise --- they got good spinners who read the conditions well. They have brought seamers who can reverse-swing the ball too. Besides admitting that the batsmen let the team down, India will also have to admit that Australia has been on top of them throughout the Test.
Bengaluru was good to India the last time they played here even though the hosts have won just six out of 21 Tests overall. Thanks to a double hundred by Sachin Tendulkar, India had beaten Australia by seven wickets in 2010.
For the hosts to give a befitting reply this time, the focus is bound be on the No. 4 spot yet again. It’s a ground that Kohli knows like the back of his hand. He slammed 973 runs last season in the IPL, including four centuries, and will want to start afresh once again after the drubbing on Saturday.