Pune: India coach Anil Kumble gave a measured response on Friday after his team’s spectacular collapse against Australia in the opening test, calling it just one bad day for his world No. 1 team.
Replying to Australia’s 260, India, unbeaten in their previous 19 tests, lost their last seven wickets for 11 runs to be bundled out for 105 in their first innings. India’s meltdown started after lunch when opener Lokesh Rahul departed after a well-made 64 as Australia left-arm spinner Steve O’Keefe wreaked havoc with six wickets for 35.
“You are bound to have one bad day. It was disappointing,” former India captain and leg-spinner Kumble told reporters.
“We were in a pretty decent position when Rahul and Ajinkya (Rahane) were batting out there. But once Rahul got out, we lost those four wickets in five or six balls. That certainty pushed us back,” he said, referring to the pitch as “challenging”. The hosts also dropped four catches in Australia’s second innings, including three missed chances with world No. 1 batsman Steve Smith to compound their problems.
Smith remained unbeaten on 59 with the touring side leading by 298 runs. India are staring at a steep four-innings target on a wicket providing prodigious turn for the spin bowlers.
Kumble was backing his side, who have won their last six series, to chase down any target.
“We would like to restrict them to as little as possible (on Saturday),” Kumble said. “We dropped a few catches. It has hurt us in the past, especially in this game you need to hold your chances even if half chances.”
The pitch at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium has attracted a great deal of criticism on its debut as a test centre but Kumble, India’s highest wicket-taker in tests, refused to blame the surface. “It is a challenging surface which requires application, aggression and a bit of caution as well. You need a mix out of that,” he said.
“We have to give credit to the Australian bowlers as well.”