India were trailing by 230 runs at the end of third day’s play against Australia in the last Test of the series. In a determined display, Lokesh Rahul (110) and Virat Kohli propelled India to 342/5 at the Sydney Cricket Ground. While batting watchfully for over three sessions, the opener scored his maiden Test ton under pressure to keep India in the reckoning. His 97-run stand with Rohit Sharma included the crucial period in the morning, and was then involved in a 141-run stand with his captain. Kohli who has been in sublime touch on the tour scored his fourth hundred of the series as he rallied on and became the first player to score three successive centuries as captain. (Also Read: HIGHLIGHTS: AUSTRALIA VS INDIA - 4th TEST, DAY 1, Sydney Cricket Ground)
Kohli was batting on 140 with Wriddhiman Saha when play ended on Day 3.
501 runs behind, India had their task cut out when play resumed on the third morning. Rahul and Rohit responded to the challenge and watchfully saw the team through the crucial first hour of play. The players defended and patiently held their ground as the Australian bowlers hit the deck hard in the morning. (Also Read: KL Rahul interview about his maiden century)
Rohit, who was batting on 40 when play started on the third morning batted with diligence as he inched towards his fifty. He later hit Ryan Harris over extra cover too to bring up a carefully compiled fifty, but walked back to the pavilion in the next over. Attempting to sweep Nathan Lyon from outside the off-stump, he bowled as the ball took the inside edge and crashed into the stumps.
After the end of the 97-run partnership, Rahul who was in his forties at the time had a few nervous moments before reaching his fifty. Sent back by Virat Kohli, the opener lost his footing and his bat in the middle of the pitch but managed to scramble up and dive to his crease as Australia fumbled. A bit later, while on 46 his mis-timed pull was dropped by Steven Smith. Rahul eventually reached his maiden Test fifty with a boundary through deep extra cover.
Meanwhile at the other end Kohli had punched Lyon down the ground to get off the mark. And before the session ended he reached 500 runs in the series. With 51 runs at the expense of Rohit’s wicket, India went to Lunch at 122/2.
The Rahul-Kohli pair continued to grind it out in the middle to keep the team in the game. While he executed some beautifully timed boundaries through the cover region, the India captain also found the gaps to score ones and twos as he approached yet another fifty. Entrusted with the task of anchoring the innings in face of a mammoth total, the opener anchored the innings maturely in only his second Test.
Having battled it out for almost two sessions to post fifty, Rahul scored more fluently in the second session to reach his hundred in it. As he built his innings, Rahul displayed some skillfully executed drives and caressed the ball to the fence, and just as he had guided a Watson delivery to the third-man boundary to get to 86.
While his captain was the dominant partner in the stand, Rahul too matched him with some magnificent shots as they settled into a partnership. Rahul lofted Lyon with ease over mid-wicket for six to enter the nineties and inch towards the three-figure mark. Kohli too reached his fifty as looked to take India to tea without any hiccups.
The Australian bowlers – Harris and Starc ran in hard and tested the Indian batsmen as they also got some movement with the second new ball. And while on 59, Kohli edged Starc to the slips and Smith missed the opportunity to send back his opposite number as the ball slipped from his hands above the head.
Rahul at the other end brought up his century with a boundary past gully off Starc. And with Kohli took the team to Tea at 234/2. With 122 runs from the session India had slowly carved their way back into the game.
However, Rahul departed early in the last session of the day after adding just four runs to his tally. He top-edged Starc high in the air and the bowler took the catch.
Kohli slammed Harris through covers, mid-wicket and past gully in the next over to keep the momentum going. He was on song as he inched towards his ton and later punched Josh Hazlewood down the ground to get to the mark.
The Indian innings looked wobbly after opener’s departure as Ajinkya Rahane lived dangerously. While he was adjudged lbw for 13 off Shane Watson, Suresh Raina edged the next ball to the wicketkeeper who took a low catch diving to his left. However, Saha then defended the hat-trick ball and aided Kohli in reducing the deficit.
End of Day 1: Australia 1st inn 348/2 in 90 overs (D Warner 101, R Rogers 95, S Smith 82, S Watson 61)
End of Day 2: Australia 1st inn 572/7 decl. in 152.3 overs (S Smith 117, S Watson 81, S Marsh 73, M Shami 5/112); India 1st inn 71/1 in 25 overs (RG Sharma 40*, KL Rahul 31, M Starc 1/17)
End of Day 3: