by Prateek Srivastava, gocricket
Adelaide: India, led by debutant captain Virat Kohli’s second ton at the Adelaide Oval, made solid progress in reply to a huge Australian total of 517/7 declared, ending the third day on 365/5 – just 148 runs in arrears of the hosts. Mitchell Johnson’s removal of Kohli just ten minutes before stumps took the sheen off India’s day, and leaves Australia needing to separate the overnight pair of Rohit Sharma (33) and Wriddhiman Saha (0) to get into the tail.
While Kohli hit his first hundred in 11 Test innings, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane and Murali Vijay contributed important fifties to negate the disciplined Australian bowlers on a surface partial to batsmen. The opening stand of 30 between Shikhar Dhawan and Vijay was followed up with partnerships of 81 (Vijay and Pujara), 81 (Pujara and Kohli), 101 (Rahane and Kohli) and 74 (Kohli and Rohit) to cancel out the disappointment of the Indian bowlers who sent down too many short balls during the first two days.
Kohli, after being hit on the helmet off the first ball he faced by Johnson, was dogged thereafter. He had struggled in the swinging conditions of England but in Australia, where bounce is more prominent than swing, Kohli came into his own. He drove either side of the wicket whenever opportunities presented themselves but equally crucial was how he waited patiently for poor balls.
In the partnerships with Pujara and Rahane, Kohli chose to play second fiddle, scoring 36 and 38 respectively, but it was when joined by Rohit that he took on the role of aggressor – scoring 41 in that stand. Rahane and Pujara also played exquisite innings before falling to offspinner Nathan Lyon, who used the rough outside the offstump to good effect. Rahane, on 62, was looking good for a century when Lyon got one to kick up and could only awkwardly fend at it, offering a simple catch to Shane Watson at slip.
Pujara and Kohli were paired after Johnson ended Vijay’s well-compiled 53 late in the first session. Pujara also patiently waited for bad balls and drove one such delivery from Ryan Harris from outside offstump to complete his sixth Test fifty off 96 balls. On 73, he fell to an innocuous-looking Lyon delivery which dribbled off his bat and went on to hit the stumps.
After play started half an hour earlier to make up for lost time on day two that saw just 30.4 overs bowled due to bad weather, openers Vijay and Dhawan, under the weight of Australia’s huge total, started off positively. Dhawan survived a low drop chance in the third over bowled by Johnson when Brad Haddin, despite diving to his right, failed to grasp the ball behind the wickets. In the same over came he collected three elegant boundaries: the first was flicked off his pads, the second punched straight past the bowler and the third pierced through the midwicket region. However, as has been his wont of late, the left-hander tried to play across to a slightly shortish delivery from Harris and played on.
Dhawan’s early departure had put India in a spot of bother but Kohli’s seventh ton, his first since 105 against New Zealand in February earlier this year, helped the tourists end their day in good cheer.
Brief scores: India 369/5 (Kohli 115, Rahane 62, Vijay 53, Pujara 73; Johnson 2/90, Lyon 2/103) trail Australia 517/7d (Smith 162, Clarke 128, Warner 145) by 148 runs.