Friday, January 27, 2012

Kohli hits maiden ton but Australia still in firm command

Young Virat Kohli provided the only bright moment by cracking his maiden century but India were still faced with a herculean task of preventing a 'Whitewash' after conceding a huge first innings lead of 332 runs in the fourth and final cricket Test, on Thursday.

Kohli stood bravely amidst the ruins with a gritty 116 but most of the other top batsmen surrendered meekly as India folded up for 272 in the first innings.
Australia were 50 for three in the second enjoying an overall lead of 382 to further consolidate their poistion and push for a 4-0 rout.
Credit should also be given to young Wriddhiman Saha (35) who helped Kohli add 114 runs for the sixth wicket which helped the Delhi lad push for his three-figure mark.
The second new-ball again did the trick for Australia as India who were 225 for five at one stage lost five wickets for 47 runs in little over 10 overs.
Kohli's delightful knock contained 11 boundaries and a six over deep mid-wicket off Michael Clarke's bowling.
If the morning session belonged to Australia who reduced India to 111 for five with Sachin Tendulkar (25), Gautam Gambhir (34) and VVS Laxman (18) back in the hut, Kohli and Saha ensured that the afternoon session went visitors' way.
While Tendulkar tried to push a fuller delivery from Siddle only to be caught Ricky Ponting in the second slip, Gautam Gambhir once again fell prey to short pitched stuff.
Siddle who scalped five for 49 dug one short and Gambhir trying to fend off in an ugly manner lobbed it up as Mike Hussey completed the formalities.
Laxman's painful stay at the crease ended when he tried to cut a straighter one from offie Nathan Lyon and the faint edge was gobbled up by Brad Haddin behind the stumps.
Both Kohli and Saha showed admirable guts in playing balls on merit, never flinching in face of a short delivery and rarely drawing into an indiscreet shot on their off-stump.
Kohli was assertive against Australian pacemen and hit all of them Ryan Harris, Siddle and Ben Hilfenhaus for at least a boundary eachto draw the sting out of them.
He hit some lovely drives through on-side and there were firm strokes of the backfoot too as he blunted the home pacemen.
His half-century arrived when he flicked Hilfenhaus for a boundary between two mid-wicket fielders, having hit five fours from 100 balls and 104-minute vigil.
As the time to take the second new ball neared, Australia resorted to two spinners from the two end and it only hastened the scoring for the Indians.
In contrast to his dogged approach, Saha slogswept Lyon over midwicket for a massive six.
Kohli was even more aggressive against Clarke as he twice pulled him for a four and a six in one over.
Another exquisite cover drive off Lyon took Kohli on level with his highest score in Test cricket the 75 he scored at WACA, Perth in the third Test.
The century partnership for the sixth wicket came when Kohli square cut Clarke for a single.
When Kohli flicked Clarke for two to midwicket, it took his individual score to 84 the highest by an Indian on this tour, bettering Gautam Gambhir's 83 in Sydney.
Saha too appeared to be picking threads from the other end and was unbeaten on 32, to Kohli's 87 at the total 220 for five when the second new ball was claimed by Australia, 20 minutes before tea-break.
Just at the stroke of tea break, Harris got the much-needed breakthrough when Saha shouldered arms to an incoming delivery which hit the timberSaha batted for 137 minutes and faced 94 balls, hitting a four and a six.
Kohli, went into the break batting on 91 but suffered jitters on resumption as it suddenly seemed that he would run out of partners just like it happened in Perth.
Peter Siddle was the man to do the damage, first winning a leg before shout against Ravichandran Ashwin (4) and then drawing Zaheer Khan (0) into an indiscreet swish outside his off-stump.
New man Ishant Sharma averted the hat-trick but things had begun to sizzle in the middle as Kohli suffered from an attack of nerves.
The youngster smashed Ryan Harris through the covers to move to 95 and then pushed with couple of twos reached 99.
He thrice fiddled with deliveries outside his off-stump without quite nibbling it and once ran for a non-existent single, getting back into his crease in the nick of time.
It drew a jibe from Australian fielders and had Kohli angrily raise his bat in the direction of one before Ricky Ponting intervened and cooled things down.
The nerves were still visible when Ishant nearly ran himself out, trying to escape the barrage of short-pitched deliveries which Australians, and Harris in that particular over, were delivering at him.
Kohli, finally managed to push Siddle through the covers to completed the coveted milestone and so elated was the Delhi lad that he almost forgot to take the second run. His teammates gave him a standing ovation as he celebrated animatedly.
Kohli's century took him 218 minutes and 199 balls and contained eight fours and a six.
Ishant, meanwhile was living dangerously at the other end but still flinging his bat to good effect, twice playing unintended steers through point off Ryan Harris.

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