India have fought hard to post 5/342 at stumps on day 3 of the fourth test against Australia in Sydney. Centuries to Lokesh Rahul and Virat Kohli have the visitors within reach of Australia’s first innings total of 7/572.
Rahul (31) and Sharma (40) took to the crease with a big job to do against a confident Australian bowling attack, buoyed by the support of a full house on the traditional ‘Pink’ Jane McGrath day three promoting breast cancer research.
Both batsmen loitered their way towards half-centuries each before lunch with some patient batting but at a run rate that highlighted the preciousness of their wickets.
Nathan Lyon bowled well on a dusty pitch, removing Sharma just before the lunch break after a 97-run partnership. Lyon slipped a ball under the bat of a sweeping Sharma to rattle the bails for the second wicket.
Virat Kohli strode to the crease with an earned air of confidence. As the second highest run scorer in the series and new captain of his country’s proud cricket team, Kohli converted these positives into another stellar innings.
Batting with a young rising-star in Rahul, Kohli shared his enthusiasm in the middle and the two set about building a strong partnership. It was a partnership that frustrated the Australians, made worse by some horrible fielding.
A run-out opportunity was foiled by some poor attention from Brad Haddin behind the stumps when Rahul slipped and fell while looking to take a cheeky single. The ball made its way to the danger end far too late and the youngster survived.
Rahul was dropped on 46 amidst controversial circumstances, when the Australian captain Steve Smith claimed the ‘Spider Cam’ technology ruined his chance at catching the ball.
“Had to happen one day, looks like it is today … he’s got the sun to contend with, then he changes direction. Might not have hit the wire, might have just distracted him,” Channel 9 commentator and cricket legend Ian Healy said.
The introduction of the new ball saw Mitchell Starc worry the batsmen again. A sharp chance to Steve Smith in second slip flew straight through his hands, painfully handing Kohli a chance on 59.
Rahul went on to record his maiden test century before tea, which included 11 boundaries and 1 six. Kohli had raced to 67 and was looking fierce against some good Australian bowling. The wicket was offering less and less for the bowlers, but good lines and variation meant that pressure remained on the batsmen.
Mitchell Starc made the breakthrough in the final session ending Rahul and Kohli’s 141-run partnership with an excellent caught and bowled snapped up right near the batsman’s head.
Kohli smashed his way toward a fourth test century this series with gusto. With it Kohli broke Rahul Dravid’s record of 619 runs in a series with his current accumulation of 639*, and is only 50 runs shy of Steve Smith’s series tally.
Kohli combined well with Rahane before Shane Watson rattled the Indians with two wickets in two balls. Rahane was unlucky to be given out LBW ducking a low bouncing ball that was going over middle and off stump, but there was no doubt next ball as Raina edged behind to Haddin.
Commenting on the impressive Kohli, antagoniser Haddin admitted:
“We couldn’t get a word in, he was batting too well,” the Australian vice-captain said at the close of play.
“There was no point saying anything to him.”
India remain 230 runs behind the Australians, but with Kohli at the crease runs could flow thick and fast as the pitch continues to die. Nathan Lyon bowled well on day 3 and produced a good economy rate of 2.84. He will be Australia’s key to victory while India must focus on bowling the Aussies out for the first time all series.