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Thursday, January 08, 2015

Kohli - once again - and Rahul - surprisingly - keep India's spirits up before Australia fight back in last session: T4D3

India 5/342 (115ov, Kohli 140*/214b/20x4, Rahul 110//262b/1x6 13x4, R Sharma 53/133b/2x6 5x4, Watson 2/42, Starc 2/77) trail Australia 7/572d by 230 runs with five 1st inns wkts in hand; T4/4 D3/5 at SCG.

Virat Kohli and KL Rahul's centuries have saved India's face, though perhaps not the Test after Australia chipped away and took 3/110 in the last session.

Rahul's batting was a revelation. After his double failure at the MCG I thought that he wasn't ready for Test cricket, and was very surprised to see him retain his place. But the Indian selectors's judgment was vindicated today as the young man put his head down in a manner reminiscent of his namesake Rahul Dravid and moved at first slowly, then with increasing fluency, to 110.

Well as Rahul batted Kohli was, once again, the star turn of the day. He supported his younger colleague by taking the initiative and then, when wickets fell - two in successive balls to Shane Watson- by not surrendering his. Yet it's hard to build a strong reply to a total the size of Australia's when three of your top six batters contribute only 13 between them. Only Rohit Sharma 

Australia's bowlers didn't, as India's did at times, ease off.  Some fielding lapses (including one where Steve Smith appeared to be distracted by Spidercam)  made their task more difficult. Watson showed his value as the fifth bowler with his two wickets: he may not have silenced his critics but I think he's worth his place in the team, if not at no3 in the batting order.

With two days to go and India still well in arrears an Australian victory or a draw are the likeliest results unless Kohli can continue to mine his rich lode of form and marshal the tail to reduce the first innings deficit (eliminating it looks beyond them) and the bowlers perform with a higher level of skill and consistency than they've shown so far in the series. The pitch is still playing well but some of those with local knowledge predict that it will deteriorate over the last two days. We shall see...

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