Australia coach Matthew Mott has admitted that his team had been playing catch-up since the first hour of the day-night Test against India after a wayward display with the new ball, and were also left to rue the number of dropped chances.
"We knew India would be a great challenge for us, and we thought we'd hit happy times winning the toss and the wicket had a tinge of green," he said. "We had a very good pace attack, but we probably just missed our mark in the first hour and they got away to a really good start. From there on we just felt like we were clawing back a little bit."
While the weather was a large factor in the game ending in stalemate with the first two days severely impacted by storms - twice preventing Australia from bowling for an extended period under lights - the Australians also had themselves to blame after putting India in, something Mott insisted was the right decision from Meg Lanning.
At the end of the first hour, India were 70 for 0 from 15 overs with Smriti Mandhana having brought up a run-a-ball half-century, which she would convert into a dominant 127 as India ended up batting for 145 overs. Before dinner on the opening day, Australia had to rely on their spinners, Sophie Molineux and Ash Gardner, to give them some control.
"I thought India played really well," Mott said. "Mandhana's innings was exceptional. But we were behind for the rest of the match and they held all the aces, they earned the right to put us under pressure. And we never really got back in the game.
"Ellyse Perry again showed her skill and determination to get us over the line there… and it's something the rest of the group could probably learn a little bit from"
"Think our catching was a bit of an issue, obviously had upwards of eight chances in the first inning so the bowlers created the opportunities but unfortunately we weren't good enough to capitalise so left to rue that. But I was really proud of the way we hung in there we kept our standards right the end."
For much of the opening session of the final day, it looked as though Australia would comfortably avoid the follow-on when Ellyse Perry, who continued her astonishing Test run-scoring record going back to 2017, and Gardner were making good progress against the old ball. However, they were shaken by Meghna Singh's new-ball spell, and when Pooja Vastrakar removed Georgia Wareham to leave them eight down, they still needed five more runs.
"Batting-wise, we were under the pump today but we showed a bit of fight, making sure we got past that follow-on because that could have made it really interesting," Mott said. "Ellyse Perry again showed her skill and determination to get us over the line there… and it's something the rest of the group could probably learn a little bit from.
"We don't get exposed to that too often but I'm sure the batting group will reflect on what worked for her in this Test and why she was able to keep out more good balls. We probably played at a few we didn't have to, but the pressure that India built up led us that way as well."
Australia had included four debutants with Stella Campbell and Annabel Sutherland producing impressive spells, while legspinner Wareham was able to sneak in for her maiden Test wicket shortly before India's second-innings declaration having only had 11 overs in the match.
"Georgia probably didn't get as many overs as she would have liked and that was a talking point, but the rain didn't help her," Mott said. "Darcie [Brown], that's her first crack at this format and think she'll get better and better. Stella really showed what she could do and is also someone who probably wasn't on the radar 12 months ago. Annabel Sutherland, I thought she was extraordinary in the first innings. Everything we talked about that we got wrong in the first session, she then delivered throughout so thought she was a real beacon."
At times it felt as though Lanning had too many bowling options and that there was room for another specialist batter (the injured Rachael Haynes was replaced by allrounder Sutherland) but Mott said that the selection had been partly based on being able to spread the workload around a young attack. There will likely be a number of changes for Australia's next Test, against England in the Ashes in late January, with Haynes, Megan Schutt and Jess Jonassen certain to return if they are available.