A “hurting” Virat Kohli questioned India’s intent with the bat after they tumbled to their lowest-ever Test score of 36 against Australia – but tipped his team to bounce back in his absence.
India began day three of the pink-ball Test in Adelaide leading by 62 with nine second-innings wickets intact – but 15.2 overs later their innings was over, with Josh Hazlewood (5-8) and Pat Cummins (4-21) shredding their line-up before last man Mohammed Shami retired hurt.
Kohli’s side looked at risk of posing the lowest-ever score in Test cricket – which remains New Zealand’s 26 all out against England in 1955 – when they sunk to 19-6 but managed to scramble 17 more runs.
Kohli will now fly home to be with his pregnant wife and miss the final three Tests of the series in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.
“It’s very hard to put feelings into words. We just collapsed completely,” said the India captain at the post-match presentation.
“When you work hard for two days to get yourself in a good position and then literally in an hour, you put yourself in a position where it’s impossible to win, it really hurts.”
Speaking further at the press conference, Kohli said: “You can make all the team plans you want, it is more important what the mindset of the individuals taking the field is.
“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.
“[Australia] were bowling similar lengths in the first innings as well. We were just better at playing those and having a plan around it and how we wanted to go about things.
“I think the way we batted allowed them to look more potent than they were in the morning. They bowled similarly in the first innings and we batted way, way better. With a lead of 62 runs with nine wickets in hand, we should have definitely put in a better batting performance.”
Kohli, however, expects his team to rebound strongly when the second Test begins at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Boxing Day.
“This is Test cricket and anything can happen at any stage. 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. It can only go up from here. I’m sure we will bounce back strongly in the next Test, there is no doubt about that.”
India are sweating on the fitness of Shami for the second Test – the seamer was hit on the forearm by a Cummins short ball while batting and did not bowl as Australia knocked off the 90 runs they needed for victory in 21 overs.
Kohli said of Shami: “He is going for a scan. He was in a lot of pain, could hardly lift his arm.”
Australia captain Tim Paine – who scored an unbeaten 73 as his side rallied from 111-7 in their first innings to 191 all out in reply to India’s initial total of 244 – lauded his fast bowlers as they demolished the tourists to make it eight wins out of eight in day-night Tests.
Paine said: “When you are as tall and quick as our boys and they get it right, it can be an absolute nightmare.
“I thought both these attacks had the ability to take really quick wickets – I didn’t think they’d be coming that quick!
“We were expecting a real dogfight right to the end but it shows the talent we’ve got when our boys execute. If there’s anything in the wicket that’s what can happen.”
“I’m absolutely rapt with how we bowled in this Test, but we’ve still got a lot of work to do with our batting – our first innings was well below what we’d expect – so it’s a good thing to have a good win and not play anywhere near our best. It fills our team with confidence.”