Pune, February 24: India chief coach Anil Kumble defended his team after the hosts were bowled out for 105 in their first innings, resulting in Australia’s Smith and men taking a commanding lead of 298 runs at stumps on the second day of the opening cricket Test here on Friday.
In response to Australia’s 260 in the first innings, India were bowled out for a paltry 105 as left-arm spinner Steve O’Keefe took his career-best six-wicket haul.
For India, Lokesh Rahul was the top-scorer with 64.
But India’s bad performance did not end there as they dropped Steven Smith (59 not out) thrice with Australians reaching 143/4 in their second innings and taking a 298-run lead. This makes it much more difficult for Kumble’s men to come back.
“You are bound to have one bad day. It was disappointing as we were at a decent position when (Lokesh) Rahul and Ajinkya and were batting well, then we lost four wickets in five or six balls which certainly pushed us back.
“There were some soft dismissals. It was unfortunate that we lost wickets after Rahul got out,” Kumble said after the game.
The former captain, neither blamed his batters nor the wicket on which batting is getting difficult session by session.
“This wicket was challenging and so and it needed a lot of restraint. You need to put your head down, you can score runs on this surface. It’s a surface need to adapt. We didn’t adapt that really well. Probably if you look at yesterday, the first 80 runs in the first session and the last 60 runs for the last wicket — that slightly took us away from what we were wanting to restrict Australia to,” the legendary leg-spinner assessed.
“Our batsmen have been scoring exceptionally well. Virat (Kohli) got out today and Pujara got out today, as did (Murali) Vijay. It was a poor day. Lot of cricket left in the Test match. Tomorrow is another day.
“On this surface, you need to play your shots. Lower-order has contributed well for us so far and today that didn’t happen. It requires aggression and caution as well. You need to mix it up.”
He even though didn’t admit the team lacked the intensity to succeed on the day, he did admit that dropping catches has hurt them badly.
Smith was dropped thrice on 23, 29 and 37.
“We dropped few catches which has hurt us. You need to hold on to your chance and even half chances. In this game, we dropped Smith couple of times and that pushed us back,” he felt.
“Tomorrow, we need to take few early wickets and put the pressure back on Australia.”
Meanwhile, buoyed with Steve O’Keefe, who got his maiden six-wicket haul in the first cricket Test against India, Australia gained a vital 155-run first innings lead.
Earlier in the day, the 32-year-old O’Keefe spun a web taking 6/35 to bundle out the famed Indian batting line-up for a paltry 105 in response to the Kangaroos’ first innings score of 260.
The left-armer who went wicketless in his first six overs in the morning session, said Smith’s backing helped him regain the confidence to attack the Indian batsmen.
“The first six overs were ordinary. Then I got a change of ends and from there it spun a bit more. And Steven Smith reassured me, helping me stay calm after an ordinary spell in the morning,” he said after the day’s play.
“I suppose I was just nervous, and I was trying to bowl the way I do in Australia. But made some subtle changes, got a tap on the head from Boof (Smith) in the dressing room and happy to turn things around,” he added.
O’Keefe’s feat prompted fans to draw comparison with English left-arm spinner Monty Panesar, who tormented the Indians during England’s 2-1 Test series win in 2012.
“Nice to relate to Monty because he bowls the same stuff and had some success over here and S. Sriram has also been outstanding.”
He however, expected India to bounce back in the second innings with such a strong batting lineup.
“I expect it to be different in the second innings, India have a long batting line-up,” he said.