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Kohli masterpiece steers Indian ship

Skipper’s seventh hundred and handy contributions from top order carry visitor to 369 for 5 at stumps on day three

Kohli masterpiece steers Indian ship - Cricket News
Virat Kohli mastered the opposition bowling to score 115 as India ended the third day's play on 369 for 5.
Virat Kohli mastered the opposition bowling, won over the crowd and got India back into the first Test against Australia with a masterful century. When the third day’s play began, India was up against an Australian first-innings total of 517 for 7 declared, and as the players walked off, hard toil done, the visiting team had shown that it was in Australia to fight. India reached 369 for 5 at the Adelaide Oval on Thursday (December 11) and had not yet crossed over into complete safety, but it certainly showed – to the world and itself – that there was enough skill and determination in its ranks.
Every time India’s openers take guard – and they were called to do so first thing in the day after Australia declared overnight – they are reminded of one forgettable statistic. The last time an Indian opening pair added 50 in an overseas Test was way back in July 2011, when Abhinav Mukund and Gautam Gambhir did so against England at Lord’s. Shikhar Dhawan began as though he wanted to set that straight, a flurry of boundaries against length balls getting India away.
Ryan Harris, who had bowled more at the quieter M Vijay at the start, finally got a look at Dhawan, and a full, slanting delivery crashed into the stumps via an inside edge. It was a familiar dismissal for Dhawan, and yet another poor start for India, with Cheteshwar Pujara at the crease with only 30 on the board.
Michael Clarke looked to surprise the Indians, bringing Nathan Lyon, the offspinner, on in only the seventh over of the innings. Vijay, who had began in circumspect fashion, immediately attacked, attempting to unsettle Lyon and get some quick runs at the same time. Vijay used his feet beautifully and lofted the ball effortlessly, twice clearing the ropes on the way to a half-century.
Just when it appeared that Vijay had dug in for the long haul, Johnson returned, and shortened his length. One ball hit Vijay on the shoulder, another just slipped past his helmet as he ducked hastily, and before he knew it, the batsman had been pushed on to the back foot. Johnson then sent down the sucker ball and Vijay, rooted to his crease, poked and edged to the ’keeper.
Kohli walked out to warm applause, but the crowd was soon hushed as Johnson’s first delivery to India’s captain, a bouncer, struck the helmet flush on the badge. Kohli was rattled, as was Johnson, and Australia’s players quickly converged to check that all was well. When it was clear that Kohli was fine, the players moved on, but it was a while before Johnson summoned up another serious bouncer.
A quiet phase of rebuilding ensued, where Pujara and Kohli were watchful when needed, industrious in looking for singles and imperious when putting away loose balls. Pujara’s understated method where he played each ball purely on merit and waited for opportunities to score bore rich fruit. His placidity helped Kohli bed down, and before long, the two had taken charge of the innings.

Pujara had comfortably made his way to 73 when he played a forward defensive shot to the excellent Lyon, only to watch the ball ricochet off pad back on to the stumps.
Ajinkya Rahane was the exact opposite of Pujara early on, playing too many shots to the spinner, and being properly tentative against the quick bowlers. More than once, the ball just passed the edge. Rahane hung on, however, and kept the scoreboard ticking over nicely enough till Lyon struck again. Bowling just the right pace for the conditions and getting drift, turn and bounce, Lyon induced the mistake as the exploding ball popped to slip off glove.
Kohli continued to dominate, getting into exquisite positions to play the cover drive, a shot he plays as prettily as anyone in the game, but was especially impressive in the manner in which he left the ball alone. His footwork was precise, his shot-making decisive and there was never a moment when he looked anything but completely in control.
When Mitchell Marsh drifted on to his pads, the wrists rolled over just so, sending the ball swiftly to the midwicket fence. Come on! Kohli yelled, taking off his helmet and raising his bat to acknowledge the cheers that greeted his seventh Test hundred.
As shadows lengthened on an extended day’s play, Johnson returned for one final effort, and banged it in short to Kohli. Seeing the ball beautifully, Kohli went for the pull, but could not control the shot and Harris made good ground at backward square-leg to take a tumbling catch. Kohli was gone for 119, with less than three overs to go for stumps.
Wriddhiman Saha weathered a withering short-ball examination from Johnson to take India safely through to stumps at 369 for 5. It was the kind of score that showed just what was possible when India’s batsmen hit their straps, but there will be a few in the Indian dressing-room wishing they held on longer or did just a bit more.

Please click here to see the full scorecard and follow live ball-by-ball coverage of Australia v India from Adelaide.

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