If there is something to cheer about in this tour of Australia by India in 2014-15 it has been the Indian batting. Once again the Indian batsmen have displayed grit and determination to challenge Australia’s imposing totals. Much was talked about Virat Kohli’s form and vulnerability in England but in Australia he has stood tall. Four centuries in this series is something to be proud of – that too in Australian conditions. He has played brilliantly; he has cut, pulled and drove the Aussie bowlers with ease and class proving why he is one of the hottest batsman in world cricket today.
Put into the hot seat of captaincy after Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s rather dramatic decision to retire from Test cricket, Kohli’s has been in sublime form. All his centuries have been special and the one in Sydney will be a bit more special since it is his first as full-time Test skipper. He was unbeaten on a well–made 140 with 20 fours as India replied strongly to Australia’s target of 572/7 declared to finish Day 3 at 342/5. Batting along-side Kohli when the stumps were drawn was Wriddhiman Saha on 14.
Kohli’s awesome form saw him pass a landmark. He overtook the record of most runs by an Indian batsman in Australia. Going past Indian batting legend Rahul Dravid’s record of 619 runs in 2003-4 series. The 26-year-old Kohli has so far scored a majestic 639 runs. And with Bollywood actress girlfriend Anushka Sharma ever present and cheering him from the stands and Kohli blowing kisses to his lady love after his tons, the new Test captain is clearly generating attention not only on the field but off it too.
Apart from Kohli, KL Rahul after a rather nervy and shaky debut, battled hard to prove his worth and his effort saw him score his maiden Test ton – a gritty 110 off 262 balls with 13 fours and 1 six. India though had a hiccup with Ajinkya Rahane falling early on 13 and Suresh Raina fell without scoring. Rohit Sharma finally got some runs under his belt scoring 53.
The bowlers had toiled hard in this Test match and after the Indians, the Aussies battled hard for wickets. Mitchell Starc 2/77 off 21 overs, Ryan Harris 0/63 off 23 overs, J Hazelwood 0/45 off 20 overs, Natahan Lyon 1/91 of 32 overs. A rather poor outing since it is a track where spin could have been helpful.
With India still 230 runs behind, the Test appears to be heading for a draw with two days remaining. The good thing for India is that Kohli is still out there in the middle and with Saha, and Ashwin, Shami to follow, India would be hoping to bat as long as possible and minimize the Aussie lead. Aussies on the other hand will aim to take the remaining 5 wickets as early as possible and try to bat quickly and set India a big final day target. Strange things have happened in Test matches. So the fourth Test at Sydney is interestingly poised for an exciting finish.