Another gritty batting performance by Virat Kohli and a maiden century to inexperienced opener Lokesh Rahul has put India back in the fourth Test at the SCG as just four wickets fell on day 3.
It was slow going for the tourists, and although winning the Test may be nigh on impossible, saving it is now a distinct possibility. India finished the day on 5/342 – still 230 runs in arrears of Australia’s first innings total.
Rohit Sharma was the first man out, bowled by Nathan Lyon for 53 with India delicately poised at 2/96. During the same over, Australia somehow missed a simple run-out chance after Rahul fell over halfway down the wicket; sub fielder Pat Cummins’ lack of awareness was the culprit.
Rahul was also dropped by Steve Smith when the skipper lost sight of a top edge due to the ‘Spidercam’ hovering above him in the day’s most controversial moment.
Rahul and Kohli went on to craft a 141-run partnership for the third wicket, the opener finally out for 110, caught and bowled by Mitchell Starc.
Ajinkya Rahane (13) and the recalled Suresh Raina (0) fell to Shane Watson on consecutive deliveries, but Wriddhiman Saha survived the hat-trick ball and finished unbeaten on 14, while the brilliant Kohli had advanced to 140.
Stud of the day
Few players could overcome the constant baiting and sniping, the media scrutiny, the pressure of taking on the captaincy, and the largely disappointing efforts of teammates and still dominate out in the middle. Virat Kohli is a remarkable cricketer. He became just the second Indian player to make four centuries in a series after the great Sunil Gavaskar, who achieved the feat twice. To do it under favourable circumstances – like Steve Smith has – is outstanding, but to do it in spite of the setbacks Kohli has had to deal with is awe-inspiring.
After the unfortunate ‘Spidercam’ incident, Smith also missed a sharp chance at first slip when Kohli was on 59.
The vital factor on day 4 will be whether any of the Indian lower order can stick around long enough to support Kohli and take the tourists near 500. Quick wickets could see Australia batting again before lunch, giving the hosts an opportunity to set an insurmountable total and drive for a day 5 win.
The captains have made seven centuries so far in the series (Clarke one, Smith three, Kohli three) – a record for a Test series.