Match report: Aus v Ind – 4th Test, Day 3
Adelaide, Jan 26: Virat Kohli’s maiden Test century, and three wickets by the Indian bowlers in the final hour of the day’s play, were not enough to deny the Australians a vantage position on Day 3 of the final Test match. Kohli’s ton took India’s first-innings score to 272, well short of the follow-on mark, while R Ashwin and Zaheer Khan reduced Australia to 50 for three. But with Australia 382 runs ahead of India, the hosts are still eyeing a 4-0 series sweep.
Beginning the day 543 runs behind Australia’s first-innings score, and needing another 344 runs to avoid the follow-on, the Indian batsmen were rattled by medium pacer Peter Siddle. Having negotiated the early part of the first session, Sachin Tendulkar (25) and Gautam Gambhir (34) were removed by the Australian quick in the space of 16 deliveries to reduce the visitors to 87 for four. VVS Laxman (18) was the third wicket to fall in the morning session when the Indian batsman edged a delivery from Nathan Lyon to wicketkeeper Haddin.
Having gone in to lunch at 122 for five, Virat Kohli and Wriddhiman Saha struck a battling 114-run partnership that looked to deny the Australians a wicket in the second session. Kohli even scored a half-century, his second of the tour, during the partnership. However, Saha (35) misjudged a Ryan Harris delivery, which pitched outside but clipped the top of offstump just before tea to give the Australians their sixth wicket.
With Virat Kohli batting on 91 after the tea interval, Siddle threatened to leave the batsman stranded without any partners when he removed R Ashwin (5) and Zaheer Khan (0) off consecutive deliveries in the 88th over. Ishant Sharma then played out the hat-trick delivery from Siddle and gave Kohli the required support, which eventually saw the middle-order batsman bring up his first Test century with drive on the off side for two runs. It was an important innings from the Indian, characterised by alternately crisp and aggressive shots against the Australian spinners Lyon and Michael Clarke.
Sharma’s 23-ball resistance was finally ended when he was bowled by Ben Hilfenhaus with the Indian score at 263. With Sharma (16) gone, Kohli looked to make the most with some big shots but was eventually trapped lbw by Hilfenhaus for a well-made 116. Kohli’s wicket brought an end to the Indian innings at 272, 133 runs short of the follow-on mark.
The hosts, however, opted not to enforce the follow-on, perhaps with the intention of giving their bowlers some respite after they had spent 95-odd overs in the field on a hot day.
The Indians introduced R Ashwin into the attack as early as in the second over. That move proved to be the right one as Ashwin consistently troubled both David Warner and Ed Cowan; Warner was caught and bowled by Ashwin on 28 in the 10th over. Zaheer Khan then had the out-of-form Shaun Marsh trapped lbw for a duck to make it 40 for two in the very next over.
Even more drama ensued in the final moments as Ashwin had Cowan (10) trapped plumb in front with the left-hander looking to play the offspinner across the line. Michael Clarke (9*) and Ricky Ponting (0*) then played out a tense few overs before stumps with the hosts still sitting pretty at 50 for three, 382 runs ahead of India.
At end of Day 3: Australia 1st innings 604/7 decl. in 157.0 overs (Ricky Ponting 221, R Ashwin 3/194) and Australia 2nd innings 50/3 in 14.0 overs (Michael Clarke 9*, David Warner 28, R Ashwin2/24); India 1st innings 272 all out in 95.1 overs (Virat Kohli 116, Peter Siddle 5/49)
At end of Day 2: Australia 1st innings 604/7 decl. in 157.0 overs (Ricky Ponting 221, Michael Clarke 210, R Ashwin 3/194); India 1st innings 61/2 in 21/0 overs (Gautam Gambhir 30*, Sachin Tendulkar 12*, Peter Siddle 1/13)
At end of Day 1: Australia 1st innings 335/3 in 90.0 overs (Ricky Ponting 137*, Michael Clarke 140*, R Ashwin 2/81)