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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Kohli century and another Australian top order wobble provide crumbs of comfort (but little more) for India T4 D3 for India

Australia 7/604 dec & 3/50 (14 ov)  lead India 272 (95.1 ov,  Kohli 116, Siddle 5/49, Hilfenhaus 3/62) by 382 runs with 7 second innings wickets in hand: T4/4 D3/5 at Adelaide Oval.

Virat Kohli's resolute 116/213b (1x6, 11x4) saved India's face, to a degree anyway, after the big four (or five if you include Gautam Gambhir) failed to stiffen his team's batting backbone.

On another hot day, though at 32 degrees max the heat, unlike on Ds 1&2,  was more baking than grilling, India failed to build on their overnight 2/61 and collapsed to 5/111 before Kohli and Wriddhiman Saha added a partly redemptive yet far from match-saving,  let alone -winning, 114 for the 6th wicket.

Saha had looked good - solid in defence and occasionally (1x6, 1x4 in 35/94b) hitting out - until in the last over before tea he misjudged the line of a Ryan Harris ball which took his off stump. So India couldn't bat through a session without losing a wicket.

The Australian bowlers all, even Harris whose recent figures have understated his effectiveness, bowled tightly though Peter Siddle's 15-2-49-5 was what ripped the heart - read his brilliant reflex c & b of Virender Sehwag yesterday, and his first session today dismissals of a solid looking Gautam Gambhir and a fluent Saching Tendulkar for 34 & 35 respectively - out of India.

It was understandable to some degree that Michael Clarke didn't enforce the follow on when India were all out 272, 334 runs in arrears. Yes, the Australians had bowled 95 overs in the heat, and the weather forecast indicates much of the same for the next few days, but already three wickets - the same three as fell cheaply in the first innings - are down. One of them is Sean Marsh, lbw for a duck in what must surely be his last Test innings. Did it occur to Clarke to drop him, at least on this occasion, down the order to help rebuild his confidence? I'm not say this would have wrought a miracle, but it may have offered him a chance for a face saving, and perhaps team strengthening innings.

As things stand Clarke and Ricky Ponting (whowas deservedly been honoured  in the Australia Day awards are left to build on Australia's lead and eventually set India an even more massive target than the follow on. Even though the wicket, as R Ashwin showed when, opening the bowling in the second innings, he dismissed both openers, is playing less truly, the match now looks certain to go into a fifth day. If  two or three of the Indian top order can emulate Kohli, they may even be able to salvage a draw.

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