Aussies win despite Kohli storm

Offie Lyon claims 12 wickets in hosts' 48-run victory; injured Clarke ruled out of the series

Aussies win despite Kohli storm

Hunched on his bat, Virat Kohli stood in the middle for what seemed to be an eternity.

For over four and half hours, he had stood between Australia and an emotional victory. He had played the finest innings of his fledgling Test career, or perhaps, even of his entire cricketing career. He had brought India to the door step of a famous Test win. He was also the final hope of India either winning or saving this match. Then he had thrown it all away with the only miscued stroke he had played over 175 balls. His second century (141, 277m, 175b, 16x4, 1x6) of the match had gone in vain.  
So long as Kohli was at the crease, India knew they wouldn’t lose the first Test while Australia knew the only way for them to win was to get rid of the stand-in skipper. On a wearing fifth-day pitch, where the ball was turning square and the odd ball was keeping low, Kohli produced a masterclass that even earned the respect of the Australian players and the partisan crowd.

The innings stood out for its sheer effortlessness in the face of struggles the other batsmen were going through.

For the record, India -- chasing 364 for win from a minimum of 98 overs after Australia had declared their second innings at the overnight score of 290/5 -- mounted a spirited chase before falling short of 48 runs here at the Adelaide Oval on Saturday. The margin of loss, however, doesn’t really reflect how admirably India stood up to the task.

That counter-punching knock by Kohli, a calculated innings by Murali Vijay (99, 234b, 10x4, 2x6) and their 185-run association had brought India within 159 runs of victory going into the final session.

But a dramatic collapse, engineered by Nathan Lyon (7/152), saw India lose their remaining eight wickets in 17 overs in exchange of 73 runs as their innings folded up for 315 in 87.1 overs from a comfortable 242/2.

Lyon, who had taken five wickets in the first innings, claimed 12 wickets in the match for his career’s first 10-wicket haul. The 27-year-old had toiled hard in the first and second sessions with just one wicket but returned to claim six more to script Australia’s come-from-behind win.

Credit must be given to both teams for providing such an entertaining fare over five days. At no stage, Australia thought of saving the match on the final day while India never backed down from the challenge thrown at them. 

Joining Vijay in the middle after Cheteshwar Pujara’s cheap dismissal, Kohli made his intentions clear from the very first ball he played. His approach was positive and the footwork precise. Whether he was rocking back to cut or going down on his knee to sweep spinners or pulling Mitchell Johnson, there was a sense of assurance in his batting.

Vijay, who had survived a close lbw call on 25, battled on at the other end. He looked tentative for a considerable part of his innings but hung on to grow in confidence. Having scored a fifty in the first innings, the opener looked set for a well-deserved century before Lyon trapped him in front of wickets. His disappointment was understandable but crucially it led to what had been feared all along -- a sad collapse.

Ajinkya Rahane was out after facing three balls to a horrible decision by umpire Marais Erasmus. The right-hander was given out bat-pad when the ball was miles away from the bat. The South African had also wrongly adjudged Shikhar Dhawan caught-behind when the rising ball had gone off his shoulder.

It was, however, the same umpire who had ruled Vijay not out earlier. Rohit Sharma’s yawning gap in performances at home and away once again was exposed after he lasted just 18 balls while Wriddhiman Saha got too adventurous for his own good.

Having reduced India to 299 for six, Australia had come back into the game but Kohli kept going at them. He had swept Lyon for four and then tried to hoist the off-spinner over mid-wicket but couldn’t clear Mitchell Marsh in the deep.

Each of the Aussie players ran towards Marsh and the crowd erupted in jubilation. They knew they had nailed the match. They had overcome the last and the biggest obstacle in their quest for victory. Kohli walked back to a standing ovation. He was disappointed but hardly disgraced.
DH News Service 

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