Led by Virat Kohli’s carefully paced 115, India dominated the proceedings on Day 3 and were trailing by 148 runs in the first innings at stumps. (Also See: HIGHLIGHTS: 1st TEST, DAY 3 - AUSTRALIA VS INDIA, Adelaide Oval)
At the venue where he scored his maiden Test century, the middle-order batsman returned to form with a hundred on his Test captaincy debut.
Half-centuries by Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane earlier in the day too were crucial in India closing in on Australia’s mammoth first innings total. When play ended, the match was hanging in balance with India on 369/5 with Rohit Sharma (33*) and Wriddhiman Saha (1*) at the crease.
Earlier, Australia declared their innings on the overnight total of 517/7 and took the field on the third morning. Opening the batting for India, Vijay and Shikhar Dhawan added a quick-fire 30 until Dhawan was sent back. The left-handed opener found the gaps with ease and had collected 14 runs from a Mitchell Johnson over early in the innings after surviving a tough chance at the hands of Brad Haddin. Dhawan was the more aggressive of the two even as Murali Vijay bided his time in the middle. Vijay had taken as many as 19 deliveries to get off the mark, opening his account off a misfield by Peter Siddle.
Dhawan’s quick-paced knock however was short-lived by a Ryan Harris delivery that took the inside edge of the bat and crashed into the middle and off-stump sending the opener back for 25.
While Clarke rotated his bowlers, Vijay and Pujara patiently added to the total. Nathan Lyon was singled out for special treatment by Vijay, who stepped out to the off-spinner and whipped him for a couple of sixes as the session progressed. Displaying some exquisite timing the pair had added 81 for the second wicket until Johnson struck. After putting in the hard yards to post his half-century, Vijay was done in by a pitched up delivery from the ace pacer at the stroke of Lunch. The bowler induced an edge which carried to Haddin behind the wickets sending the opener back for 53.
Having dedicated the wicket to his former team-mate, Phil Hughes, Johnson welcomed Kohli with a bouncer which the stand-in India captain took in front of the helmet arousing concern from the opposition and umpires. Settling back into the game Pujara and Kohli took India to 119/2 at lunch.
Kohli then kick-started the post-lunch proceedings with a boundary through covers off Johnson. He displayed sublime touch as he sent Peter Siddle to mid-wicket to add another boundary in the next. Johnson was struck through the slips and covers as the pair maintained a steady pace.
In the fifth over of the session, Pujara brought up his half-century with three down the ground off Johnson. Both batsmen cut and drove as they carried the innings forward. But to India’s misfortune another blossoming partnership ended for 81 as Lyon toppled Pujara’s bails. The top-order batsman’s 135-ball stay at the crease ended for 73.
With the wicket, Australia had brought the run-rate down a notch as Kohli and Rahane toiled to build a partnership. Kohli anchored the session while an edgy Rahane worked his way at the other end. Lyon continued to bowl tirelessly from one end while the Australian pacers bowled short-spells from the other end. The attack had dried up the flow of runs and the run-rate had dropped further even as the duo took the visitors past 200.
While they looked to rebuild, Johnson, brought back into the attack tested the young Indian batsmen. But in the bowler’s next, the pair worked the ball away. While Kohli inched towards his fifty, Rahane sent the ball past point for four as they saw the team to 223/3 at tea. With 104 runs for the loss of one wicket, India had held their own in the session.
First ball of the last session, Kohli drove Lyon through covers to reach his half-century. The duo took singles and with boundaries at regular intervals kept the scorers busy as they shaped the partnership. Rahane whipped Harris past point and drove the ball superbly as he too inched towards his half-century. With a single towards backward point, Rahane was the fourth batsman in the Indian line-up to reach the half century mark.
With ten overs left before the new ball was available, Clarke introduced his seventh bowling option, Steven Smith and had spinners bowling from both ends. The Indian batsmen had kept up a steady flow of runs and settled in when Lyon struck to upset the cart. The spinner got the better of Rahane to end the partnership for 101.
Kohli then took the innings forward with Rohit Sharma for company. When the hosts took the new ball, the batsman scored off them with ease. He drove and punched Johnson to the fence as he inched towards his ton. And a bit later, he hit Mitchell Marsh through mid-wicket to bring up his seventh Test ton, his second at Adelaide.
However, Kohli departed pulling Johnson at the fag end of the day and Harris took the catch diving forward. With the end of the 74-run stand, Saha joined Rohit and took India through to the end of day’s play without losing any more wickets.
End of Day 1: Australia 1st inn 354/6 in 89.2 overs (D Warner 145, S Smith 72*, M Shami 2/83, V Aaron 2/95, I Sharma 1/56)
End of Day 2: Australia 1st inn 517/7 decl in 120 overs (S Smith 162*, M Clarke 128, M Johnson 0*)
End of Day 3: