Kanpur (Uttar Pradesh) [India], Sept.26 : Asserting that a strong lower-order batting line-up is vital for the continued success of a formidable Test side, India captain Virat Kohli on Monday stated his side's lower order batsmen stepped up when required and mounted a psychological pressure on the tourists during their resounding 197-run victory over New Zealand in their historic 500th Test in Kanpur.
"The boys applied themselves really well. We were in a spot of bother at times. Initially we had the momentum with the bat, but a couple of soft dismissals put pressure. (Ravindra) Jadeja and (Ravichandran) Ashwin added crucial runs to dig us out. Those 30-40 extra runs make a psychological difference," said Kohli while assessing his team's performance during the post-match press conference.
"All the sides that are doing well around the world have strong lower-middle orders. The tailenders also contribute. That's one area that we have improved and we need to keep working on because those 30-40 extra runs could prove crucial.
It's been a very good Test match," the Test captain said, referring to crucial stands between Rohit Sharma and Ashwin, and Jadeja and Umesh Yadav in the first innings.
Chasing an improbable 434 for victory, New Zealand were bundled out for 236 in their second innings despite resolute half-centuries from Luke Ronchi (80) and Mitchell Santner (71) on the fifth day at the Green Park Stadium.
Premier spinner Ashwin once again hogged the limelight, bagging six wickets to add to his first-innings haul of four wickets.
This is the fifth time that he has taken a 10-wicket haul in the longest format of the game. Jadeja was adjudged as the Player of the Match for his five-wicket haul in the first innings and scoring an unbeaten 50 in the second innings.
He also remained not out on 42 in India's first innings total of 318. Ashwin and Jadeja also broke New Zealand's staunch resistance in their first innings to give the hosts the advantage on the third day after bowling out the Kane Williamson-led side for 262.
Kohli also praised New Zealand's resilience on the final day as overnight batsmen Ronchi and Santner stitched a 102-run partnership to give their side a glimmer of hope of clinching a draw.
"When New Zealand were batting well on Day 2, me and Ashwin had a chat about this Test match being an exciting game.
We needed to play at our best to win. Credit goes to New Zealand as well. The reason why this game went to the second session on the fifth day was because of the character they showed," he added.
After resisting against a persistent Indian bowling line-up in the first hour of play, Ronchi lost concentration minutes after drinks as Jadeja managed to break the tourists' stand when the batsman mistimed a flatter delivery and was caught at point by Ashwin.
Pace spearhead Mohammed Shami also bagged two wickets, including wicketkeeper-batsman BJ Watling to leave New Zealand reeling at 205 for seven at lunch.
Needing 229 to win the match, New Zealand could only add 31 runs more after the lunch as Ashwin removed the tail-enders with ease.
The second of the three-match series will start in Kolkata on Friday..