Melbourne: India's brave showing on the opening day of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy was vital to the tourists' quest to win a series in Australia for the first time, skipper Anil Kumble said.
Kumble was India's hero on the first day of the Boxing Day Test taking 5 for 84 off 25 overs to reduce the world's number one Test team from 135 without loss to 337 for nine at stumps.
Kumble was delighted with the attitude of his team to claw back after a difficult morning session.
"I've always believed that the first innings of the first Test of a series is very important and we've done exceptionally well after being on the back foot at lunch, so I'm very pleased with the way everyone's performed today," Kumble said.
"At 135 for no loss it was important that we came back well into the Test match.
"The wicket of (Phil) Jaques, and Zaheer (Khan) bowled Ricky Ponting with a beauty and then things started to happen.
"We were a bit unlucky earlier on, both RP Singh and Zaheer bowled brilliantly initially, but you should also give credit to the way Matt Hayden and Phil Jaques batted. At the end it was a good day for us."
Tail-enders Stuart Clark (21) and Mitchell Johnson (10) held up India's push to dismiss the Australians, but Kumble sees no reason why India cannot post a big first innings score and take a grip of the first match in the four-Test series.
"We're still in the game, so I think it's important that we finish off Australia's remaining wicket and then get a big score," he said.
"The wicket is definitely on the slow side, but if you apply yourself there are runs to get, Matt Hayden showed that, and if our batsmen apply themselves then it will happen."
The Indians were impressive in fighting back after looking under pressure as Hayden and Jaques built their opening partnership.
"The intensity was good after lunch and we kept at it, we kept coming hard at Australia," he said.
"I'm really happy with the way the bowlers bowled and to get nine wickets on the first day after losing the toss I think it was a brilliant effort."
Kumble now has 589 Test wickets and lies third as the all-time wicket-taker behind Muttiah Muralitharan (723) and Shane Warne (708).
The skipper said he had been urged by his teammates to continue bowling on the first day rather than stop so he could call the shots out in the field.
"I had this problem when I played in India as a captain and when I held back and was not bowling the rest of the players asked why I had stopped so I kept bowling," he said.
"So today I had to do that and it's important that I ensure I bowl the number of overs that I need to bowl as a bowler and I was really happy with the way things went today."