Virat Kohli’s India head to Perth ready to deliver ‘knockout blow’ – VVS Laxman
Virat Kohli's Indian cricket team won the first Test by 31 runs. @AFP

Former India batsman VVS Laxman believes that Virat Kohli’s team will head to Perth for the second Test starting Friday with the confidence that 2-0 is a distinct possibility, having beaten Australia by 31 runs at Adelaide Oval.

An unexperienced Australian side fought hard on a drop-in surface to take the match nearly into the final session, which Laxman felt was too close for comfort, but he backed India to deliver the “knockout blow” in Perth.

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“While this wasn’t a complete performance, the fact that they have secured victory in the first Test will add to Australia’s woes,” wrote Laxman in today’s Times of India. “It is clear, for obvious reasons, this Australian side is somewhat lacking in quality. That they have gone 0-1 down, and therefore have to play catch-up, will increase the pressure on the hosts.

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“The door is open for the No. 1 side in the world to step in and deliver the knockout blow. Great teams focus inwards rather than on the opposition, which is exactly what Virat Kohli and Ravi Shastri will be telling the boys.”

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The Man of the Match in Adelaide was Cheteshwar Pujara, who faced 450 balls – the most he’s faced in an overseas Test – while scoring 123 and 71 in two innings that played a decisive role in India’s win. Like Australia captain Tim Paine stated after the match, Laxman felt Pujara was the difference.

Cheteshwar Pujara scored 194 runs in two innings at Adelaide
Cheteshwar Pujara scored 194 runs in two innings at Adelaide. @ Twitter/BCCI

“The difference between the two teams was the admirable Cheteshwar Pujara who was impressive in so many different ways at the Adelaide Oval. I loved the way he eschewed the drive on the first morning even as wickets tumbled around him, and focussed on playing square of the wicket, thereby eliminating undue risks,” wrote Laxman.

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“I watched with admiration the manner in which he farmed the strike at the fall of Ashwin’s wicket, keeping the lower-order off the firing line and playing strokes like the upper cut or the pull that aren’t necessarily associated with Pujara. That shows that he had set his plans in place before coming to Australia, and prepared accordingly.”

Pujara’s approach to Australia’s Nathan Lyon was excellent, felt Laxman, and the manner in which he constantly stepped out to the offspinner pushed the home team onto the defensive.

“I enjoyed his tactical brilliance in negating the threat of Nathan Lyon landing the ball in the rough by consistently using his feet, not always to play strokes,” he wrote. “By throwing Lyon off this rhythm, Pujara then opened up other scoring possibilities off the back foot, another tick in the box for enterprise and intelligence. He showed what wonders commitment, application and drive can achieve, and I am sure his colleagues who played extravagant strokes on day one will take a leaf out of his book.”