Times, they seem to be a-changing. Having denied Australia a win twice, which is an improvement on the recent trend of away whitewashes in this rivalry, India are not gloating. They are satisfied with the effort on the last days in Melbourne and Sydney, but Virat Kohli said they are not seeking pleasure from the fact that Australia lost 0-4 when they last toured India. That is a welcome change because last heard Kohli himself was on about how Australia had lost their lip when they were losing in India, and how he was still matching their verbals here. This is also a welcome change from the last time India were here, when they all wanted to see Australia at home. There is an overall recognition of the fact that India's bowling needs to improve drastically if they are to win away Tests.
"I don't want to compare what we did here last time, and what Australia did in India," Kohli said when asked if he was satisfied with a better performance than Australia's in India. "Eventually they won the series, and we didn't, and that matters. What we did in the series is something exciting for us, something to look forward to in the future.
"It is always pleasing to see guys stepping up and going out there and competing in difficult situations in Test cricket. That's the pleasing part. Obviously the result hasn't gone our way, but we have certainly played the kind of cricket we wanted to. Honestly Australia have had to earn both the victories they have had. There was no throwing in the towel. They knew we were there all the time. The moment they get complacent, we are ready to cash in. That's the most important thing. As we get more composure, and improve in a few areas, you will see us cashing in and actually winning Test matches going to the fifth day."
The fifth day here began quite similarly to how it did in Adelaide. Here they needed 348 in 90 overs, in Adelaide they needed 365 in 98 overs. In Adelaide India looked like they were always going for the target, but this effort was not as straightforward. India began cautiously, going only after Nathan Lyon. Then when they lost KL Rahul to Lyon, they went back to defence again. M Vijay scored was circumspect until he reached 50, but opened up after that. Even after Vijay fell for 80, Kohli kept the option of going for the win open, but his wicket meant the shutters had to be drawn. Kohli put it down to the slowness of the surface and the quality of Australia's bowling.
"The first intention was to go for the target," Kohli said, explaining India's effort on the last day. "But I think we didn't get the kind of momentum we got in Adelaide because of the way Australia bowled in this innings. We couldn't keep up with the rate, and it dropped quite a bit. Eventually the asking rate went up to six-and-a-half. So it was a matter of not thinking too much and going for it and keep batting.
"When Vijay got a half-century, he began to play a few strokes. Then we started feeling it might be possible if we do have wickets in hand in the last hour. When Vijay got out after tea I thought that we will take five-six overs and then go after boundary balls and start pushing them, but when me and Ajinkya [Rahane] started running those runs and hitting boundaries we felt there was a sense of uncertainty there. So I thought of cashing in and tried to cash in but got out. There was a sense of hanging in throughout but it wasn't as clear as it was in Adelaide because of the way Australia bowled and credit to them for bowling the way they did throughout the innings."
Kohli said he was pleased with the character shown. "It has been very satisfying to see people like Ajinkya, Rahul, Vijay, Rohit [Sharma] in this game, stepping up at the right time and showing a lot of character and composure and making runs against some very good bowling by the Australians. They bowled quite well, if you see their economy rates in this innings and the first innings as well. They have bowled on the spot and we have had to play good cricket shots to score runs, which is always great to see from youngsters who are playing their first few games.
"And the team showed a lot of character especially in the second innings, when I thought the wicket wasn't easy to bat on. The guys again stood there and fought it out and pulled out a draw, which is satisfying as of now."
India have been losing the big sessions in a big way this series, but here they managed to hang in there when it seemed like they were going to lose another decisive session. "It was a feeling where you have forced the opposition to earn their victory," Kohli said. "If they are that good for five days, we aren't throwing in the towel or getting beaten in four days. We pulled them till the end on three occasions on this series, two were losses and one was a draw, which could have gone either way.
"I was only sitting there and thinking if the series would have been one-all how much more pleasing those last moments would have felt but really proud of the way we have played in this series. There are certain negatives which we want to improve on, and at the international level there is a lot for us to improve on as a Test side seeing how the Australians bowled. We need to improve big time on that, if we can improve on that we are going to be a strong Test team going forward."
Kohli ended with 692 runs in the series, the most by a tourist in a four-Test series in Australia, but he has been heckled by the fans, who have called him a w****r, and sledged by the hosts. Kohli said he has enjoyed the tussle. "No they [spectators] haven't been disrespectful," Kohli said. "Last time around I had a couple of incidents, but I think this time around I know they've booed me but they've liked the way the team has played. They like it when I go out there and I get a bit annoyed with the opposition.
"It's been enjoyable. To have a challenge of overcoming the whole Australian crowd and 11 Australian players who badly want to irritate me or get me out. It's been a challenge, but it's something that I've enjoyed and it's brought out the best from me. And certainly so far it's the best Test series I've had. I've really enjoyed myself and obviously the competition from the Australian team as well. There's a lot of things that went on during the series but eventually they all shook hands and we respect the way they played. Both teams mutually know that this was a strong fight and both teams know that both teams enjoyed it equally."