By Ian Ransom
ADELAIDE (Reuters) – Having become the first Indian team to win a test series-opener on Australian soil, Virat Kohli’s side are determined to keep the momentum rolling into the second clash in Perth and inch closer to a breakthrough series triumph Down Under.
India were made to work harder than expected in the 31-run win at Adelaide Oval, and their bowlers will have only three days’ rest before taking to the field again at Perth Stadium on Friday.
Despite the quick turnaround, Kohli suggested the tourists were leaping out of their skins to land another blow on Tim Paine’s shaky side in the four-match series.
“They are at their peak, all of them together and it’s something that we as batsman look at as an opportunity to put in good performances,” Kohli said of his attack, rated India’s most potent in years.
“We will be, in every test match, gunning for a result.”
Compared to his counterpart Paine, weighed down by a sore index finger and a long list of concerns, Kohli heads to Perth with a spring in his step.
India’s Ishant Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami enjoyed a stellar debut as a pace unit in Australia, sharing 14 of the 20 wickets at Adelaide Oval, bowling with sustained pressure and limiting the hosts to a single 50-run partnership.
Kohli’s batsmen got off to a shaky start and needed man-of-the-match Cheteshwar Pujara’s glittering 123 to achieve a modest first innings total of 250.
However, after Australia were bowled out for 235, they were quick to seize the momentum and build valuable partnerships to all but bat Australia out of the game.
Though beaten and vulnerable, a chastened Australia can be expected to fight back hard on a wicket likely to suit their classy pace attack.
Kohli will hope for more from the recalled opener Murali Vijay, who has struggled to justify his place in the side this year. He managed only 11 and 18 in Adelaide, undone by Australia’s pace spearhead Mitchell Starc both times.
With sidelined young opener Prithvi Shaw seen limping around Adelaide Oval after his ankle injury during a tour match, the veteran Vijay should have another chance to stake his claim.
Kohli, who struck four centuries in the 2014-15 tour of Australia, is also due a score after being dismissed for three and 34 in Adelaide.
The India skipper noted that his team’s tail-end batting was trumped by Australia’s as their last five wickets could only muster 25 runs in the second innings.
A more determined application could have set Paine’s side a higher target than the 323 for victory, while saving India a lot of nerves on day five.
India first toured Australia in 1947-48 and have yet to win a test series Down Under in 11 previous attempts.
(Editing by John O’Brien)