It will be challenging for the Aussies on day five after Virat Kohli’s first Test century in more than three years helped India win the first innings.
Virat Kohli drought breaking century pleased the Ahmedabad crowd. Still, it appeared to have committed the final Test to a draw, ending Australia’s ambitions of recording their most excellent Test series result in India in over two decades.
The series is most likely to end in a deadlock, with India winning by 2-1. My forecast is based on Kohli’s outstanding performance, which brought many loving supporters to the Narendra Modi Stadium following lunch. Kohli’s first Test century in over three years.
The ex-captain led the Indian batting charge and batted for eight and a half hours, resulting in a first-innings lead of 91 runs. However, he was caught on the boundary for 186 just before stumps.
Despite missing their regular No.5 Shreyas Iyer due to a back concern, India managed to post a total of 9-571, thanks to the contributions of Ravindra Jadeja (28), KS Bharat (44), and Axar Patel (79).
Towards the end of the day, the Australian team faced an injury concern of their own as Usman Khawaja could not open the batting due to a left leg injury he sustained while attempting a catch near the boundary line in the early afternoon. As a result, he did not return to the field for the rest of the day.
Australia’s Khawaja injured; Head stands unbeaten as India dominates Day 3
Instead, Matthew Kuhnemann (0no) was sent out as a nightwatchman, being dropped by Bharat in the last over of the day of an R Ashwin carrom ball as Australia reached 0-3, behind by 88, with Travis Head (3no) undefeated at the other end.
The extent of Khawaja’s injury, which contributed to his team’s 480 total, was unknown at the end of the play. It was merely defined as ‘lower leg pain’ by a team representative.
It now appears difficult for Australia to gain a lead large enough to declare and then bowl India out in the time remaining in this match. After giving away their final four wickets for only 16 runs, the hosts’ chances of victory appeared to have faded unless Australia collapsed with the bat on Monday.
Kohli’s unbeatable hundred puts Australia on the back foot
Australia’s bowlers attempted leg-side-heavy fields, off-side-heavy fields, speed, spin over and around the wicket on a grueling day in the area. Nothing bothered Kohli.
Lyon and Murphy delivered a combined total of 110 overs, with Lyon bowling his highest-ever tally of 65 overs in a Test inning and Murphy bowling 3-113. Meanwhile, Cameron Green also surpassed his previous record, bowling 18 overs in a Test inning.
Even though it had been 1,205 days since it had previously happened, Kohli’s hundred seemed unavoidable at the start of the day.
Supporters wearing replica blue India jerseys with ‘Virat’ inscribed on the back emerged from everywhere as fans clamored to see Kohli patiently inching closer to the milestone during an initial session where he did not strike a single boundary.
Murphy strikes again to dismiss Kohli as Australia’s hopes fade
He eventually arrived after lunch with a flick of his pads off Murphy, kissing the wedding ring on a necklace hidden beneath his shirt as he soaked in a lengthy round of applause.
Skipper Steve Smith’s two off-spinners bowled most of the bowling on day four. Lyon and Murphy were Australia’s two most cost-effective bowlers, taking six of nine wickets between them.
Murphy cleverly duped Ravindra Jadeja into miscuing one to mid-on, then conceded only six runs in his remaining six overs in the first session. Three were maidens, two belonged to Kohli, and one had two off-side fielders—a hallmark of the young off-spinners maturity beyond his years.
Although Kohli is content to play the long game, Bharat felt obligated to get a move on, taking 21 from one Green over, including a pair of pulled sixes over the din of leg-side fielders set up for the short-ball trap.
Kohli’s floodgates opened slightly when he got his 75th international century. He had taken 250 balls to smash his first five boundaries but then blasted his next five in 19 balls as the Australian onslaught wore down.
In the last session, Axar Patel took full advantage, hoisting the visiting spinners for four sixes, including three off Kuhnemann (1-94 from 25).
But India’s tail quickly crumpled. Umesh Yadav was run out for a diamond duck after Peter Handscomb made a direct shot from the boundary. The Victorians’ following slip off Kohli (on 185) cost nothing, as Murphy removed Kohli for the fourth time in the series in the last hour of play.