India played into our hands with pitch preparation: Steve Smith
Australian captain Steve Smith rubbed salt into India\'s wounds saying that Virat Kohli and company dug their own grave by preparing a rank turner which backfired badly in the first Test.
PUNE: Australian captain Steve Smith rubbed salt into India's wounds saying that Virat Kohli and company dug their own grave by preparing a rank turner which backfired badly in the first Test.
Indian batsmen were made to hop skip and jump by left-arm spinner Steve O'Keefe as they surrendered to a 333-run loss in the first Test of the four-match series.
"It was up to them to prepare a wicket and they prepared a wicket that actually played into our hands," Smith said at the post-match media conference.
"I think it was certainly a wicket that was likely to suit the Indian players. I think it evened up the contest a lot more. We saw the way our spinners bowled on that. They were able to generate some good spin and good natural variation out of the wicket," said Smith.
In a subtle way, Smith said that he is curious to know what kind of wicket will be prepared in Bengaluru.
"It would be interesting to see what they come up with come Bangalore (for the second Test commencing March 4)," added Smith, who led the way in batting with a second innings hundred that took the game away from the hosts.
Smith termed this Test win as an achievement right up there with some of the memorable Australian victories on Indian sub-continent.
"Right up there. Coming to India, we haven't won a game here in 4,502 days. I have been told those facts. So it has been an incredibly long time. Guys have been excited by the opportunity to come and play here. We know it's a great challenge and in this game the boys were up to the challenge," said Smith.
"I think it was fortunate, Day 1, win the toss and post 260 on that wicket was very good. And then our bowlers went to work. I thought Sock (O'Keefe) was absolutely amazing to consistently land the ball in good areas and get the natural variation was absolutely outstanding. It was well supported by Nathan Lyon and the two fast bowlers as well."
While he was dropped as many as five times, Smith rated his own knock of 109 on this pitch as one of his big accomplishment.
"It's going to be right up there as well. I obviously rode my luck throughout the innings, had a few lives. But you need a bit of luck on a wicket like that, and I was pleased with myself to score a second innings hundred in India. Formulate some different plans than how I normally play and sort of problem solving on the spot."
"So from that aspect, I am pleased with myself. It was great that we were able to get such a big lead and give our bowlers plenty to bowl at."
He took an indirect dig at former Indian spinner Harbhajan Singh for his taunt that this was the worst team to come out from Australia to this country.
"The pressure was on us. Everyone wrote us off and expected India to win 4-0. That can't happen anymore. It's great to have won this first Test match and there is still long way to go throughout this series. India are going to come back hard. I am really proud of the way the boys have played in this Test match and go one-up in this series."
But he also cautioned that there were three more games left when asked what he would tell his teammates.
"Congratulations, terrific job over the last three days. But it's only one game. It is a four-match series and we would like to win the series as you like to do with every series.
"For us it is about taking it one day at a time and continuing to worry about our processes. If we do that like we did in this game, hopefully the result will take care of itself."
Smith said that India will come back hard at them.
"But it is going to be a tough road. We know India are going to come back incredibly hard. They are an amazing team particularly in their own backyard. They are going to come back hard. And we have got to be ready for it."
According to Smith the lessons they learnt from the 3-0 defeat in Sri Lanka helped his team to keep the foot on Indians' throat and not release it and allow the home team to come back into the game.
"We probably kept the foot on the throat. When we got ourselves in the positions to win in Sri Lanka, we let the opposition get back into the game. In this Test, we didn't let India back in the game after the first innings. It was certainly a positive that we were able to dominate throughout the Test match."
He complimented his spin bowlers, left-armer O'Keefe and off spinner Nathan Lyon for hitting the right length consistently.
"I think both and Nathan and Steve bowled a really good length, and just hit that length consistently. If you are challenging the defense and are able to beat the bat on both sides, you have a real good chance to take wickets on that wicket.
"Sock (O'Keefe) was able to beat the bat on both sides and find the edge and hit the pad consistently. If you're attacking the stumps enough like that, then you're going to get rewards."
Asked about his counterpart Kohli's twin failure, Smith said he noticed that Virat Kohli was getting upset over his fielders dropping catches which benefited him the most as he was let off on 27, 29, 37 and 66, but warned of a backlash from the Indian stalwart.
"I think he was getting a little bit angry on the fielders for dropping catches. He is obviously a world class player and we expect him to comeback hard. Players miss out now and then and unfortunately he missed out for us in this game."
Asked about the DRS calls wasted by India in the first few overs itself in the second innings on Saturday, Smith said it was always to keep one for later stages.
"You don't want to guess too much on those sorts of wickets. Think it was fortunate that the first two batters used up the reviews early on this particular innings. On these kind of wickets, you have those little inside edges and balls that are skidding past the bat a long way nice to have one up your sleeve, a real shocker."