India captain Virat Kohli was left struggling for words after his side’s humiliating defeat to Australia in the first Test in Adelaide.
The tourists recorded their lowest ever Test score of 36 after a remarkable collapse in the day-night showdown on Saturday led to an eight-wicket defeat.
After resuming on 9-1 on day three, India were obliterated by an Australia attack spearheaded by Josh Hazlewood (5-8) and Pat Cummins (4-21), the former recording the most economical five-for by an Australian player in 73 years.
None of India’s batsman reached double figures – Kohli was dismissed by Cummins for four – as they were routed in just 15.2 overs having tallied six runs fewer than their previous worst return set against England in 1974.
“We had a lead of 62-odd when we arrived today and just collapsed completely,” Kohli said at the post-match presentation. “As I said, it is very hard to find words to express how everyone is feeling in the change room.
“When you work hard for two days, you play some good cricket to get yourself in a good position, and then literally [in an] hour you put yourself in a position where it is impossible to win. It really hurts.
“We didn’t have enough intent batting today. We should have probably moved the game forward a little bit from the word go because we knew it was moving day and to get 100-odd ahead with wickets in hand would have been a good position to be in. It is something that needs to be reflected and learned from and we need to put up better performances going forward.
“It was pretty evident in the way we went about things: just losing one wicket after another. [That] just created an atmosphere where you felt like runs were so difficult to come by now. And [the Australian] bowlers obviously got more confidence and got a boost from that as well. It was a combination of both lack of intent and consistent areas from their bowlers as well.”
36 – India have compiled their lowest total in a men’s Test innings (36); in addition, it is also the joint-lowest team total in the format on Australian soil (also 36 by South Africa v Australia, February 1932 in Melbourne). Nadir.#AUSvIND pic.twitter.com/EDUtgsqOop
— OptaJim (@OptaJim) December 19, 2020
In a warning to Kohli’s men, Australia skipper Tim Paine – named player of the match after hitting 73 off 99 deliveries on Friday – said the hosts have plenty of room for improvement with the bat over the remainder of the series.
Paine’s knock helped to carry Australia to a first-innings score of 191 after early struggles had left them at 79-5, with world-number-one batsman Steve Smith skittled for the loss of one run.
“At five for 79, if we lose another couple of quick ones then India are a long way ahead,” Paine said. “To hang in to give our bowlers a chance to have a little crack under lights last night, then to have Pat start the day like he did and Josh Hazlewood from his very first ball was just on. When you are as tall and quick as our boys and they get it right, it can be an absolute nightmare. Full credit to our bowling attack again.
“[I’m] absolutely rapt with how we bowled in this Test, but we’ve still got a lot of work to do with our batting. Our first innings was well below what we’d expect – so it’s a good thing to have a good win and not play anywhere near our best. It fills our team with confidence.
“I said this morning that I thought both these attacks have the ability to take really quick wickets – I didn’t think they’d be coming that quick. We were expecting a real dogfight right to the end – late day four and maybe day five – but it shows the talent we’ve got the ball when our boys execute. If there’s anything in the wicket that’s what can happen.”
For Kohli, attention now turns to the second Test on Boxing Day in Melbourne.
“You want to be committed to the team’s cause and you want the team to perform really well,” he said. “A result in this game would have been really nice.
“But I’m pretty confident that the boys going forward will reflect on this and they’ll come out with a stronger performance on Boxing Day and try to get a result our way so that the series gets more interesting.”