India v Australia, 1st Test, Adelaide, 5th day December 10, 2018

Pujara was "priceless" in Adelaide - Kohli

ESPNcricinfo staff

Play 03:06

"Priceless."

That was India captain Virat Kohli describing the value of Cheteshwar Pujara's runs after a 31-run victory in the first Test against Australia in Adelaide.

Batting at No. 3, Pujara scored a first-innings 123 that dragged India back from 5 for 86 to 250, and then a second-innings 71, with two important middle-order partnerships, allowing India to set a fourth-innings target of 323. It was the first time he had made a century and a fifty in the same Test match.

Kohli and his men had to endure a nervous wait on the fifth afternoon, the final few wickets proving difficult to dislodge. But eventually they bowled Australia out for 291 and celebrated the first time India had ever won the first Test of an Australian tour.

"We were down and out at lunch on day one. His belief, grit and determination kept us in the game, he brought us back beautifully," Kohli said after the match. "The game was poised equally on day two. We knew runs on the board, their position playing at home, they'll obviously be a bit tentative and we cashed in on that. Any lead would have been gold and we built on that (with) a couple of partnerships in the second innings, particularly Pujara and Rahane. When they bat together like that they are our most solid pair. They gave us that safety for the bowlers to go out and get ten wickets. It took grit and determination from both of them to put us past Australia where it was hard for them to chase that total down."

Cheteshwar Pujara carves the ball away © Getty Images

Australia captain Tim Paine acknowledged that his side's batsmen could learn a lot from Pujara.

"Pujara was probably the difference between the two sides," he said. "It's what you want from your top 5-6 batters, hundreds and a (playing) lot of balls into our bowlers as well. He made us work very hard to get him out and we can take a lot from that for our batting group."

Kohli pointed to the Pujara-Rahane partnership as an example of how the India batsmen needed to step up and support the side's bowlers who are "at their peak". They went in with a four-man attack with Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma and Mohammed Shami as the lead pace bowlers and R Ashwin as the sole spinner.

"Super proud (of India's bowling attack). To have four bowlers take 20 wickets to win the Test is an outstanding feat, something we haven't done in the past in Australia. That's why we are very proud of our bowlers. 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. We will be, in every Test match, gunning for a result. It's up to our batsmen to step up in this particular series and Pujara and Rahane particularly showed that."

Pre-tour preparations were key to his success, Pujara acknowledged, and he also praised the bowlers for giving India a psychological advantage in the form of the 15-run lead

"Playing here before has helped me a lot. The most important thing for me was the preparation, when I was back home. I knew what to expect from Australian pitches and playing some of their bowlers in the past has also helped me.

"It was special, the way we came back in the game, we were four wickets and 40 runs and from there to make a comeback and get to 250 was the most important. Ultimately, winning the Test match, credit goes to all our bowlers for getting them out and getting the 15-run lead was a psychological advantage which made us believe we can bat well in the second innings and the partnerships in the second innings were very crucial. I think it's our self belief which made it possible."

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