Before the start of the Dharamsala Test, India had a big call to make. They knew their captain, Virat Kohli, was out with a shoulder injury - they now needed to decide whether to replace him with another batsman in a like-for-like swap or to play an extra bowler instead. With Kohli out of the side, India were losing a batsman with 57 Tests and 4497 runs behind him. Playing a batsman in his place may have seemed the safer move, but India went with the fifth bowler, handing Kuldeep Yadav a Test debut.
Kuldeep, in the end, was one of the game-changers in India's series-clinching eight-wicket win. On day one, Australia slumped from 144 for 1 to 300 all out, losing four wickets to Kuldeep's left-arm wristspin.
"I spoke to Jinks [Rahane] before the game and he asked me what I feel," Kohli said. "I said, this is your game, you have to be comfortable with playing four or five bowlers. He instantly said five bowlers, because he understands the workloads of the guys throughout the whole season and to keep pushing two guys to take wickets for you regularly is unfair when the body is tired and it has taken a toll.
"So that fifth bowler, that was Anil bhai and Jinks and myself, we all had a discussion. Kuldeep was the X-factor, they hadn't played him, they hadn't seen him much, and he turned out to be the difference in the game. I think from 130 for 1 to 300 all out in the same day can really demoralise the opposition.
"From 2014 to now, Umesh Yadav, the only thing that has changed is his mindset. He was always a very fit guy, probably used to bowl even quicker than he is now, but he has understood his game, become smarter."
"And I think it was a great call on Jinks' and Anil bhai's part. Credit to him, he went in with five bowlers and the batsmen took up the responsibility as well. To win Test matches, you need some courage before you start, to take that little bit of risk and play five batsmen, which we've done throughout the season on most occasions. It takes more responsibility out of you but that is what it is required of you playing at this level and it was his and Anil bhai's decision eventually to go in with five bowlers and it was the right one in the end."
The first two days of the Test match were neck-and-neck before India pulled away decisively on day three, taking a 32-run first-innings lead before their bowlers combined to roll Australia over for 137. Kohli said he had enjoyed the experience of watching the match from the sidelines, though it had been difficult to sit out.
"Well, I jerked my shoulder four times yesterday celebrating outside," he said. "So that's how much energy I had and I couldn't sit in the change room. So it is not nice. I don't know how many Test matches I've played in a row … If it was a strain injury it would have been different, but impact injury really gave me no options. And to start a game at 50% was not fair on the team. That's the kind of person I have always been and I'll continue to be.
"But yes it was difficult watching from the outside when you have been in the thick of things all the time for the past so many years and seasons. But the most pleasing thing is when you see guys taking the responsibility in your absence and actually going out there to play one of the best ever Test matches that as a viewer you can see. I would call myself a viewer out there. I really enjoyed it. It was not easy to not play this game, but at the end of the day sitting here and having won the series, I have no complaints."
One of the key performers for India was Umesh Yadav, who took out both openers cheaply and finished with three wickets in Australia's second innings. Those three wickets took his series tally to 17 - the most by any Indian fast bowler in a home series since the turn of the millennium. Kohli was pleased with Umesh's evolution as a bowler, and said the key factor behind it was how he now understood his own bowling.
"I would put him and [Mohammed] Shami together, at par," when asked if he would rate Umesh as India's best fast bowler since Zaheer Khan. "On pure pace, striking ability and making dents in the game, he would be at par with Shami.
"Obviously, you can't compare them to Zak [Zaheer] yet because Zak had done it for a longer period of time. But from 2014 to now, Umesh Yadav, the only thing that has changed in him is his mindset. He was always a very fit guy, he probably used to bowl even quicker than he is now, but he has understood his game, become smarter.
"He used to bowl 145kph regularly, now he is touching 140kph at odd times but he is very smart with what he wants to bowl in spells. That has been a really, really big difference in his game. Obviously when you give guys confidence, saying, you are my strike bowler, they respond in that way. Then they are not thinking about getting hit for runs or anything of that sort. It is give and take, it takes a combination of a lot of things, but 80% of the credit is Umesh's for the way he has gone out there and executed it. You can take in all the advice but you have to go out there and do it eventually. Credit to him, the way he has taken his game to the next level. I am really happy for him."
Kohli said he would not get too elated with India's performance over their home season - 10 wins, two draws and one loss and all four series won - and hoped they could continue to win games consistently overseas as well.
"No need to get overexcited with whatever we have done," he said. "We are very happy with the No.1 ranking in the world, but our main challenge begins now. If we can conquer the overseas season, that's when you will see a broader smile on my face when I sit down for the press conference. To understand where we are placed and the kind of cricket we have played, and where we stand as individuals at the end of season, it makes me very happy as a captain."
Few had expected Australia to compete as hard as they did through their tour of India, and Kohli said they had been India's toughest opponents this season.
"[India's planning] was nothing different from what we have done in the past," Kohli said. "The focus was obviously to maintain our skills, our momentum that we gained throughout the season, and execute that.
"If we can conquer the overseas season, that's when you will see a broader smile on my face when I sit down for the press conference."
"I mentioned in the post-match [presentation ceremony], credit to Australia, the way they have played in this series. They have really challenged us really hard and it tested the guys' character to bounce back from difficult situations many a time.
"Especially Jinks, the way he captained in this game was really pleasing to see because it had just been four Test matches since he had come back from his injury and to step up, show that character and lead the side to a win, hats off to him as well. He has really taken the responsibility well and I was really, really happy to see him doing that.
"He was also very delighted to be taking that responsibility for the team. These kinds of series, these kind of matches, they build character for the guys. They become very sure of themselves, their games. And when you have seven-eight people in the side who are that sure of their abilities and their mindset, then you become a champion side and you keep that going for a long period of time.
"Nothing different from what we have done in the past, it was very similar, but the resistance from the opposition was a lot more compared to the last few series that we have played. Credit goes to the way they played their cricket as well."
Asked why Australia were so competitive, Kohli said they had kept believing they had it in them to win in Indian conditions.
"I think they had the belief of making things happen in these conditions, that's something that I sensed in their body language and the way they played their cricket," Kohli said. "They believed they could win sessions and win situations and that was the most important thing and the most challenging thing for us. While [other] teams really lose their morale once they lose a Test match in India, they kept bouncing back and they had the desire to compete throughout.
"That's why they are the No. 2 side in the world. You expect that from Australia, once they get a sniff they put you under pressure. But the way we responded, I'm really proud of that as well. I would say their relentlessness and their desire to make things happen in these conditions was probably the reason why they kept giving us a great fight to the end of this Test match. So a lot of credit goes to them."