Match report: Ind vs Aus – 1st Test, Day 3
A remarkable double-century by India captain MS Dhoni and a crucial century by Virat Kohli put India in the driver’s seat at the end of the third day’s play in the first Test against Australia. Leading from the front, Dhoni paced his innings superbly and found an able ally in Bhuvneshwar Kumar in the last session to take India to a 135-run lead. Dominating the bowlers, he had pushed Australia on the back foot at the end of an engaging day’s cricket at the MA Chidambaram Stadium. When stumps were called, India were 515 for eight with Dhoni batting on 206 and Bhuvneshwar Kumar on 16.
Dhoni who had come in to bat about an hour into the day’s play took the attack to the Australian bowlers as he anchored the Indian innings and controlled the proceedings through the day. He not only surpassed his previous best of 148 in Tests, but also posted the highest score the highest by an Indian wicketkeeper in the longest format of the game. Dhoni also crossed the landmark of 4000 runs in Tests.
Earlier, while the Australian attack looked to dominate the first session, the duo of Sachin Tendulkar and Virat Kohli responded with solid defense against the pacers. Keen to see off the first hour, they added 14 runs to take their partnership to 91 runs, before Nathan Lyon struck midway through the first session. The off-spinner got the ball to sneak through Tendulkar’s defense and knock the leg-stump, bringing to end a brilliant innings and gave the visitors an important breakthrough.
However, Dhoni who replaced the batting maestro was keen to not let the Australians get a foot in the door and counterattacked forcing the Australian captain to push back the field. Kohli, who was in good nick, lofted Lyon over mid-wicket fence for a six. Increasing the pace of the innings, they milked the bowlers for runs and added 67 runs before lunch to reduce the deficit to 117 runs.
With his main bowlers conceding runs, Clarke brought himself on to put on the breaks but didn’t succeed as Kohli and Dhoni continued to find gaps with ease. With runs flowing freely and the batters finding the boundary at will, India continued to dominate in the second session. Dhoni smacked Mitchell Starc past point to race to his fifty, and later in the over sent ball to the ropes to bring up the 100 of the partnership. Meanwhile, Kohli reached his century with a boundary off James Pattinson in the next over. Going after the pace attack, Dhoni hit Moises Henriques over extra cover for a six. He belted the bowlers all over the park and tilted the match in India’s favour. With the duo blunting the pace attack, Clarke reintroduced Lyon, and the off-spinner responded with the wicket of Kohli. While on 107, Kohli took the aerial route and was caught by Starc at mid-on halting the flourishing fifth wicket partnership for 128.
With India still 56 runs short of the Australian total, Ravindra Jadeja joined Dhoni in the middle and though they continued to garner runs, the pace of scoring went down as the Australians looked to create opportunities for a breakthrough. The Dhoni-Jadeja pair added 41 runs, before Pattinson castled the latter for 16. Dhoni who had slowed down in his 90s was still three runs short of his sixth Test ton as India trailed by nine runs at the end of the second session.
In the first over after tea, Lyon returned to rattle Ravichandran Ashwin’s stumps. But undeterred the Indian captain reached his hundred with a boundary over square-leg off Peter Siddle in the next and carry forward the Indian innings with Harbhajan Singh. After they surpassed Australia’s first innings total, Dhoni looked to build on the lead. A bit later, Moises Henriques bowled Harbhajan Singh to claim his first Test wicket. Bhuvneshwar Kumar who then came to the crease played a patient and supporting role in helping Dhoni put India in a commanding position. The duo was involved in a 109-run unbroken partnership, with Dhoni scoring majority of the runs and dominating the strike.
At the end of Day 3: India 1st innings 515/8 in 141 overs (MS Dhoni 206*, V Kohli 107, SR Tendulkar 81, N Lyon 3/182)
At the end of Day 2: Australia 1st innings 380 all out in 133 overs (M Clarke 130, R Ashwin 7/103); India 1st innings 182/3 in 52 overs (SR Tendulkar 71*, V Kohli 50*, C Pujara 44, J Pattinson 3/25)
At the end of Day 1: Australia 1st innings 316/7 in 95 overs (M Clarke 103*, M Henriques 68, D Warner 59, R Ashwin 6/88)