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Lyon ensures Australia’s 48-run win

Kohli and Vijay take India within reach of a stunning win before final-session collapse

Lyon ensures Australia’s 48-run win - Cricket News
Nathan Lyon, who finished with 12 wickets in the game, played his part magnificently in a typically Australian win.
One of the great Test matches of all time, brought to a heady climax by an innings of the kind never seen from an Indian batsman in a chase, ended in heartbreak for Virat Kohli and his team. Australia, who is used to playing Test cricket in a certain manner, pressed on relentlessly, and came through, by 48 runs, but not before it stared at the serious possibility of losing the game.
 
This was Test match cricket at its finest. The lead-up to the series had been emotional, but in a real-life sense, with the death of Phillip Hughes being at the front of everyone’s minds. Once the players crossed the white line of the boundary ropes on the final day, though, everything that was felt was pure cricket.
 
The first thing that set the day up was Michael Clarke declaring overnight, setting India 364 to win and giving his bowlers 98 overs to pick up ten wickets.
 
Gauntlet thrown down, India waded in, M Vijay setting his stall out while Shikhar Dhawan endured another short stint at the crease.
 
Cheteshwar Pujara, a good candidate to have in the mix when the possibility of batting for a draw exists, got a start, but played for turn when a ball from Nathan Lyon targetted the rough, and feathered a nick to the keeper.
 
At 57 for 2, Kohli and Vijay came together, and they would not be separated till they had done enough to make the opposition believe India could pull off a stunning chase.
 
Vijay, who can play big shots with the best of them, was the epitome of caution, cutting out strokes that have caused him problems in the past. Instead, he concentrated on picking up the safe runs: the gentle work to fine-leg, the punch past mid-off, the back-foot ease through cover. Vijay was especially guarded against Johnson and Ryan Harris, the principal threats, who sent down a combined 113 balls to the opener, conceding only 26 runs.
 
While Vijay was being careful, Kohli was setting out to make the impossible possible. Inevitably, last innings batting is difficult because of the state of the pitch and the pressure of the scoreboard, and these two things combine to make it unrealistic for a batsman to play normally. But Kohli took a different approach, releasing himself from the pressure of looking for a score, focussing purely on the bigger target, the total in front of him and the overs remaining.

 

When a batsman such as Kohli is able to take it one ball at a time, it takes something out of the ordinary to hold him back. Try as Australia might, Kohli would not be cowed down. Not one of his cover-drives were mistimed, not one of his pulls misplaced. Not once did Kohli pop a catch towards a fielder and not once did he unintentionally hit the ball in the air.
 
Kohli caught up with Vijay, and before long, the two were keeping pace with each other, matching each other run for run till the time when each needed just a single to reach three figures. Kohli got there first, pushing Ryan Harris wide of mid-off and haring down to the other end. When Kohli celebrated, he may have known that he was the first Indian No. 4 to hit twin centuries, and only the second man in the game, after Greg Chappell, to do so on captaincy debut.
 
Minutes later, Vijay, distinctly more anxious than Kohli to bring up the milestone, played back to Nathan Lyon, trying to work the ball to leg, and missed. Vijay returned to the dressing room on 99, out lbw.
 
When Kohli and Vijay were together – their stand yielded 185 from 49.5 overs – India was solidly on track. The fact that the Australians were denied a wicket in the entire second session raised hopes. But, there was always the chance that the separation of this pair would trigger a collapse.
 
Before he could get his eye in, Ajinkya Rahane was sent packing, Rohit Sharma popped a catch to leg slip and the collapse was well under way.
 
Wriddhiman Saha crashed Lyon for a mighty six back over the bowler’s head, creamed one off drive to the fence and then went for glory, jumping down the pitch to be clean bowled.
 
The adrenaline was well and truly pumping, and when Lyon bowled a rank long hop, Kohli was on the back foot in a flash, launching the ball towards midwicket. It was Lyon’s first real bad ball of the day, and Kohli’s first mistimed shot and Mitchell Marsh settled under the catch. Kohli’s 141, a masterly innings, ended in profound disappointment, but there was no denying the fact that he had taken this game deeper than many thought possible.
 
From there on, it was a matter of time and the tail folded meekly, with India having lost their last eight wickets for just 73 runs. Lyon, who finished with 12 wickets in the game, had played his part magnificently in a typically Australian win.  

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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