Ton up Kohli inspires India's fight against Australia

Ton up Kohli inspires India's fight against Australia
Virat Kohli became only the third Indian to score a hundred on his captaincy debut as the visitors responded resolutely to Australia's mammoth first innings total by reaching 369 for five on the third day to leave the first cricket Test evenly poised here today.

Kohli, standing in for injured regular captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, became the first Indian after Vijay Hazare and Sunil Gavaskar to score a hundred on his debut as skipper of the team.

The 26-year-old's seventh ton in the five-day format ended at 115 after he was dismissed by Mitchell Johnson off a short-pitched delivery just before stumps. The Indian's attempted pull landed in the hands of Ryan Harris at deep fine leg in the 95th over of the day.

At draw of stumps, Wriddhimaan Saha (1) was holding fort in the company of Rohit Sharma, who batted fluently to score 33 in 66 balls.

The resolute effort by the Indians, undone to an extent by Kohli's late dismissal, came after the Australians declared their first innings at an overnight score of 517/7.

On a bright and sunny day which started early to make up for the four hours of play lost yesterday due to rain, the Indians dominated the proceedings for most part before Kohli's wicket swung the equations slightly in Australia's favour.

Earlier in the morning, opener Shikhar Dhawan (25) departed in the eighth over but the rest of the top-order fired in unison to put India in a comfortable position on a placid track.

It started with Murali Vijay (53) notching up his seventh Test half century in the pre-lunch session, followed by Cheteshwar Pujara (73) sailing to his sixth in the pre-tea session, and ended with Kohli's inspiring knock.

In between, Ajinkya Rahane (62) also managed to clinch his fifth Test fifty as Australian bowlers toiled just the way their Indian counterparts had to on the first two days of the match.

Pacer Mitchell Johnson bent his back to send down a couple of probing spells but the wickets were hard to come by. Johnson, the most menacing of all the Aussie pacers today, ended the day with figures of 2/90 in his 18 overs -- Kohli's wicket being his most crucial strike.

Spinner Nathan Lyon also managed to pick up two wickets for his toil of 30 overs in which he conceded 103 runs.

Notwithstanding Kohli's brilliant knock, which came off 184 balls and was laced with 12 fours, India still trail Australia by 148 runs in the first innings.

After being provided a steady start by the openers, Kohli shook off the first-ball bouncer by Johnson that hit his helmet but ended up rattling the Australians, still grieving the death of Phillip Hughes whose life was cut short by a short-pitched delivery that hit the back of his head.

Kohli put on 81 runs for the third wicket with Cheteshwar Pujara (73 runs, 135 balls, 9 fours). He added 101 runs for the fourth wicket with Ajinkya Rahane (62 runs, 76 balls, 10 fours) and another 74 runs for the fifth wicket with Rohit.

For Australia, Ryan Harris (1-49) was the other wicket-taker. Peter Siddle (0-62) was hit by a stomach bug and left the field, while Mitchell Marsh (0-29), Shane Watson (0-13) and Steve Smith (0-19) also went wicketless.

After tea, Kohli and Rahane looked to avoid any further damage to the innings, particularly as the new ball was due and the follow-on mark was still away.

The latter was especially scratchy after the break, struggling at times against both pace and spin. But he played some beautiful shots to make up for it and scored at a brisk pace to reach his fifth Test fifty off just 61 balls.

Kohli too had crossed his half-century mark and the two were batting fluently, scoring at more than five runs per over. Their 100-run partnership came off 151 balls in the 75th over and just when it was looking like India had two set batsmen for the second new ball, disaster struck.

Lyon bowled an absolute ripper and Rahane gloved it to Watson at first slip, the batsman clueless about the extra bounce and turn on that delivery.

It brought Rohit to the crease and he maintained his calm as Australia took the new ball as soon as it became due. Kohli took the lead in scoring thereafter and got to his hundred in the 85th over of the innings. He faced 158 balls and hit 12 fours in doing so.

Three overs later, the 50-run partnership followed as India crossed the 350-run mark in the 89th over, runs still flowing at more than five-per-over.

Kohli then fell just when the day's end was in sight, pulling Johnson to fine leg where Harris held a fine catch. Saha then survived a dangerous spell from the tearaway bowler to avoid any further loss.

Earlier, in the post-lunch session, Pujara scored his sixth Test fifty in the 37th over, only his second half-century in the last 17 Test innings.

Pujara had faced 96 balls to do so and hit 6 boundaries. With Kohli, he scored runs quickly and their 50-run stand for the third wicket came up off only 54 deliveries.

But then Lyon, who had been hit out of the attack by Murali Vijay (53 runs, 88 balls, 3 fours, 2 sixes) before lunch, returned and bowled a brilliant probing spell to the two set batsmen. Kohli looked more comfortable against the spinner but Pujara was circumspect throughout.

It ended with Pujara being bowled in the 50th over of the innings as he defended the ball but left enough gap for it to break the stumps. It brought Rahane to the crease and he survived a probing spell by Johnson before tea, as India crossed the 200-run mark in the 56th over.

In the morning session, Vijay struck his seventh Test fifty to steady India in the morning session. He put on 81 runs with Pujara for the second wicket after Australia had declared at their overnight score.

The day's play began half an hour early to make up for the lost time yesterday due to rain. Keeper Brad Haddin let go off a tough chance of Shikhar Dhawan in the second over bowled by Johnson.

The left-handed opener though did not make good of the life he got as he raced to 25 runs off just 23 balls before playing a loose drive against Harris and was bowled with an inside edge deflecting back to his stumps.

Lyon was brought on as early as the seventh over, but Vijay looked to attack him instantly. When he was reintroduced into the attack a little while later, the Tamil Nadu batsman hit him for a six and a four off successive balls in the 20th over, adding another big hit in Lyon's next over.

Vijay made use of the life given to him by Mitchell Marsh (0-11) at third slip off Johnson in the 14th over as the all-rounder dived to his left and only got a hand to the driven ball.

The Indian 50-run mark also came up in that over. The opener had taken 46 balls to score his first boundary but in 19 balls afterwards had hit three fours and two sixes.

Things were looking smooth for India at this juncture with the 100-run mark coming up in the 24th over. Four overs later Vijay brought up his half-century off 78 balls.

But with the first session's play extended, Johnson was brought back and removed Vijay with a clever mix of short-ball barrage and full deliveries.

Narendra Modi or Rahul Gandhi? Who will win the battle royale of the Lok Sabha Elections 2019

Get real-time news updates, views and analysis on Lok Sabha Elections 2019 on 

Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram with #DHPoliticalTheatre for live updates on the Indian general elections 2019.

Liked the story?

  • 0

  • 0

  • 0

  • 0

  • 0