Showing more fight than at arguably any stage of the series to date, India stayed out at the crease for the entirety of day 3 to all but square the ledger in the fiery third Test at the MCG.
Ajinkya Rahane (147) and Virat Kohli (169) took centre stage with a magnificent 262-run stand as the tourists reached 8/462 – just 68 in arrears of Australia’s mammoth first innings total.
Resuming at 1/108, Cheteshwar Pujara was dismissed without any runs being added, caught behind to Ryan Harris. Murali Vijay departed for 68, leaving India delicately poised at 3/147 after being caught by Shaun Marsh off Shane Watson’s bowling.
Rahane picked up the pace after joining Kohli in the middle, overtaking his teammate and bringing up his century in 127 balls. The feisty Kohli brought up his third triple-figure score of the series soon afterwards.
Rahane was contentiously out lbw to Nathan Lyon after tea, however, and India’s misfiring lower order yet again failed to aim up. India lost five wickets for just 53 runs before the end of the day as debutant Lokesh Rahul (3), MS Dhoni (11) and Ravi Ashwin (0) fell cheaply.
Kohli’s brilliant innings came to end in the last over of the day, out swiping at a wide-ish delivery by regular sparring partner Mitchell Johnson thanks to a brilliant diving catch by Brad Haddin.
Stud of the day
It’s impossible to split Rahane and Kohli after both posted Test career-best scores. Rahane blasted 21 boundaries in his 171-ball knock, while Kohli – who later launched a tirade against the Australian side as tensions between the teams continued to boil – anchored the innings with 18 fours in his 272-ball stay. Their partnership of 262 was India’s highest outside Asia in 10 years, India’s highest ever at the MCG, the best by any pair for the fourth wicket at the venue, and the ninth-highest by India in Australia for any wicket.
Brad Haddin’s uncharacteristic drop of Pujara on day 2 did not prove costly, but Kohli made Australia pay when Watson put him down off Johnson’s bowling when the stylish Indian was on 88.
This fascinating series is set for another sensational Test conclusion with two days remaining. Australia should be able to wrap up India’s innings swiftly given the tourists’ lack of lower-order fight in the series to date, but a strong start by the Indian bowlers could put the hosts on the ropes.
This Test represents just the second time both sides had tallied over 400 in the first innings of a Boxing Day Test.
Around the world
Sri Lanka dug in on day 3 of the first Test in Christchurch, reaching 5/293 in their follow-on second innings after being skittled for just 138 in their first dig. Opener Dimuth Karunaratne posted a superb 152. But it’s still a long road back for the tourists, who still trail by 10 runs with two days to play.