A lack of intent with the bat on day three and dropped catches on day two cost India the Adelaide Test, Virat Kohli has said. This was the first time India had lost a Test after winning the toss under Kohli's captaincy, but for a large part of the match the record looked like it would remain intact. India bowled Australia out for 191 to take a significant lead of 53, but were bowled out for their lowest Test total of 36 in the second innings to set Australia only 90 to win.
Kohli felt that India should have batted more positively in the second innings to take the game forward, and also rued missed opportunities in the field - Marnus Labuschagne was dropped three times in his 47 and Tim Paine added 47 after he was dropped on 26 - which allowed Australia to cut down the lead and give themselves a chance.
Kohli said the team plan had always been positive and to take the game forward, but individual batsmen got stuck out in the middle. "Whenever we have performed well, especially overseas… see you can make all the team plans you want, it is more important what the mindset of the individuals taking the field is," Kohli said in his post-match press conference. "At an individual level, you have to be clear when you step on the field as to how you want to play, whether you want to take the game forward or you want to play absolutely solid. That you are very sound defensively and are feeling comfortable. Historically, I can tell you whenever I have batted well in these situations my plan has been to go and get quick 30-40 runs and take the game forward. This is very significant.
"As much as you plan on the team level, individuals need to have the right mindset in these critical moments and take the game forward. That is how you move towards winning. If your mindset is not right, like ours wasn't today, when we lacked in intent, the opposition can sense it and put you under extreme pressure. That is exactly what happened. The individuals will have to see how they can have the mindset to take the game forward given the team's situation."
Kohli said "a bit of a lead" can be tricky in the third innings and can make the batsmen extra cautious because the game hasn't yet been taken out of the opposition's reach. "They were bowling similar lengths in the first innings as well," Kohli said when asked if there was something in the bowling that caused the collapse. "We were just better at playing those and having a plan around it and how we wanted to go about things.
"A bit of lead can always be tricky because as a batting unit you can go into a headspace where you feel like we are just 50 or 60 ahead and you don't want to lose early wickets and allow opposition back into the game. So you always have to be positive and you can't think like that. Hence I said we lacked intent because we should have just seen where the game has to go rather than where it has come to till now and move the game forward, which we were not able to do. I think the way we batted allowed them to look more potent than they were in the morning to be honest. They bowled similarly in the first innings and we batted way, way better."
That it was only "a bit of a lead" - although 53 is a huge number in the context of such a low-scoring encounter - was down to India's fielding, Kohli said. "I think it was seven down for 110 [111 for 7] if I am not wrong when Tim Paine offered a chance and then he got 70-odd from there on. Then Marnus Labuschagne. A couple of chances off him as well.
"So Test cricket, you have to take your chances when they come your way. They can be very very costly, something that we realised in a very harsh way today. What the repercussions of not taking those chances can be, and will be in Test cricket. Teams will not offer you opportunities again and again. You have to take them when they come your way and try and capitalise on that momentum. That definitely would have been a boost for us if we had a lead of a few runs more. Then we are already over 100, and with a decent start, the opposition starts panicking."
Kohli was asked if this collapse could be the result of tired minds put in a biosecure bubble for such a long time and playing a lot of limited-overs international cricket. "I don't think so," Kohli said. "We have played enough cricket to understand what needs to be done at different stages of a Test match, and it is just lack of execution. It is just lack of executing a plan that is apt for the situation, and it is to move the game. Day three is called moving day and you drive home the advantage. Lead of 62 runs with nine wickets in hand, should have definitely put in a better batting performance. I don't think any mental fatigue was involved, it was only the first Test of the series."
Kohli will take no further part in the series as he takes leave for the birth of his first child, but he said he was confident the team will bounce back in his absence. "I would have definitely loved to win this game, because leaving with a victory would have been great," Kohli said. "Having said that this is Test cricket, and anything can happen at any stage. I'm pretty confident that the team will bounce back strongly in Melbourne.
"A few of the guys are going to realise their true characters and how they can step up for the side. I'm very confident that we will learn from this. I don't think we have ever had a worse batting collapse than this, and it can only go up from here and understand as a team we can do special things when there is a partnership. I'm sure we will bounce back strongly in the next Test and there is no doubt about that."