Thirty-one is a lot of runs in the fourth innings of a Test. India should know, having failed at what are seen in popular parlance as "tight" chases. And yet such was the drama, and the lack of having experienced such wins, that emotional fans kept believing Australia would somehow pull off a miracle. Even India coach Ravi Shastri, a broadcaster of at least 25 years, forgot the tenets of broadcasting and described his emotions in a totally and utterly beep-able fashion.

On the field, though, nothing got near any mouth. Except maybe some gum, some zinc cream, some flies and the sweet taste of a 1-0 series lead. India began the day knowing they had enough on the board despite a slowed-down pitch and only four bowlers to call upon. They knew from their own experience of how difficult it gets in fourth innings that they didn't need to do anything other than stay disciplined. Australia got partnerships in, but India's fast bowlers kept bowling accurately and fast, and R Ashwin went at under two an over, which is precisely what Virat Kohli wanted from his bowlers.

According to Cricviz data, with an average pace of 141.4kmph and 50.6% deliveries pitched on a good length and line - good line being roughly between third and sixth stump - India's fast bowlers had their best Test by both measures across games in South Africa, England, New Zealand and Australia over the last 12 years. That gave Kohli what he loves the most as the captain in the field: control. He doesn't want opposition batsmen to play with positive intent, something that he as a batsman himself understands brings wickets.

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"If Australia had been 4 for 50, we would have gone with our strike bowlers straightaway and could have afforded to give away a few runs," Kohli said of his plans. "The fact that we went with Ashwin and Ishant [Sharma] this morning was because we had a template where they were scoring at 1-2 runs an over max. And then we build on that to gain momentum and be positive from ball one. As batsmen you understand that if you are not playing with positive intent, you can nick off at any stage. And that's exactly what happened with those guys who were not ready.

"Maybe Travis Head was not expecting Ishant to suddenly go short on him, and we just wanted to create that zone where our bowlers were in a good rhythm and bowling consistently. And even with the second new ball we gave it to Ashwin, and we thought he will get more bite with it. It is very important to keep an eye on the scoreboard and how many runs you have, where the game is heading and how the batsmen are playing as well. So I keep looking to improve on that because in the past there have been sessions where we have given too many runs in one go, and as captain I have sat down and tried to plug it. In this Test, we were pretty balanced in that regard, we never gave away a session where they got away from us so we just have to remember that and make that balance again according to situation of the game and be more aware. It is awareness that counts in those situations."

Australia batted 23.4 overs more than India did in this Test, but India made it home comfortably in the end, which is what will vindicate Kohli's tactics. At least within the team group if not to the wider world. There might have been a case for attacking Australia more on the final day, but, on the day, with the Australian batting uncertain and India under no pressure to make the big play, this conservative approach worked for them.

Having said that, it did take a lot out of the fast bowlers, who kept coming back for spell after spell even as Ashwin tied up one end. "Especially with the Kookaburra, we have not been able to sustain that pressure long enough in the past," Kohli admitted. "But the fact that they [the bowlers] are fitter and they have more pace on the ball for longer periods, and their job at certain times is just to contain... I think to pick 20 wickets with four bowlers, away from home, especially with a ball that does not offer you that much is something we can be proud of."

What of Ashwin then? The only spinner in the side, he provided India the initial breakthroughs in both the innings, but there might be criticism for him that he didn't land the knockout blow. He ended up India's joint-highest wicket-taker - with six, along with Jasprit Bumrah - but there might be comparisons with Nathan Lyon. However, on a pitch that had slowed down, Kohli was satisfied with Ashwin's work on the final day.

"He was given a specific role, yes," Kohli said. "I think he was very economical and bowled in the right areas, just to create enough chances and keep one end tight, because we didn't want to go overboard wanting him to attack too much because that would have opened up scoring options as well.

"Actually, if you look at the whole day, they were playing with a mindset where they knew they were up against it, and they were just looking for an opening where you get 50-60 runs in an hour and then you start putting the opposition under the pressure. We never wanted that to happen. If this was the case in the first innings, where there was that much assistance or these many spots, Ashwin would have been more aggressive with hitting those spots, but the fact that he controlled the game nicely and kept us in the game, not letting it drift away too much at any stage. I think he did his job perfectly. So I think that's a good start for him, he hasn't started that well in Australia before and I think he can build on that. He did his role perfectly in the second innings."

The challenge now for India bowlers is to get ready for Perth in three days' time, which might include one intense nets session in which to figure out what lengths to bowl there. It is a tough ask on bowlers from either side; they will both be desperate to get an extra day off if their captain can win the toss and choose to bat.