SCG Test, Australia v India – Day Three: Late wickets spoil India’s day after Kohli, Rahul tons

In the morning session, Australia showed how to bowl when the ball isn’t swinging. There were no loose balls. Neither was there over-attacking. It was just simple basic bowling around that off stump grinding India down. Rahul and Rohit could score only 19 runs in the first hour that saw just two boundaries.

Australia managed 15 overs in the first hour, despite Nathan Lyon not bowling, because the ball hardly left the square. Rohit Sharma was tied down on 47 for five overs before he reached his half-century with an uppish drive off Harris. It was an innings of tremendous restraint until Lyon came on to bowl. The sight of Lyon has made Sharma do strange things this innings. And just like yesterday, he tried a premeditated sweep to a full ball outside off ,only to drag it back onto the stumps.

The next ball from Nathan Lyon could have fetched two wickets; it ended up fetching none. Kohli was beaten and so was Haddin behind the stumps, and Rahul was flat on the ground while returning to the non-strikers end after Kohli had refused the single. However, Brad Haddin was late to react as he took time throwing the ball back at Lyon and Rahul miraculously survived, despite losing his bat during the fall.

That wasn’t the only chance Rahul gave Australia. He top edged a pull from Watson only for Steve Smith to drop a sitter running back from slips. Smith blamed the spidercam wire. However, apart from the couple of blips, Rahul batted how a Rahul should. He reached his maiden test fifty by driving Lyon through the covers for his second boundary of the day, and with his skipper who had already hit three boundaries in his 20 minute stay, took India to lunch at 122-1.

Rahul then started the afternoon session by leaning into a perfect cover drive to send a full delivery from Hazlewood to the fence. Lyon, on the other hand, started well with a couple of maidens to Kohli. But the skipper was good to pounce the moment Lyon erred even a little- a sweep, a drive, and a pull, three boundaries in the next three overs, and Kohli was off again.

Seeing the batsmen finding it comfortable in the middle, Steve Smith decided to roll his arm over before the second new ball. But that did nothing more than push Rahul closer to his maiden hundred. Rahul even surprised Kohli when he pulled Lyon way over the square leg fence to move to 94.

Rahul couldn’t get his century before the second new ball but he was patient, and even while just one stroke away from the milestone, left quite a few deliveries from Starc and Harris. His moment arrived though, in the final over before tea when the 22 year-old from Bangalore guided Starc behind gully to reach a magnificent, patient, determined century that took over 250 balls and came on a track getting harder and harder for storkeplay. What a turnaround it has been for Rahul compared to Melbourne, and one could see him muttering a quiet thank you to his skipper whilst celebrating the landmark.

Australia had their chance when Kohli pushed at a wide one from Starc edging it to Smith, who failed to hold on to a high catch. That drop meant the Australians have now dropped more catches than India this series – which is quite an achievement, considering how Indian catching has been of late.

India took tea sitting pretty at 234-2, having scored 112 runs in a wicketless afternoon session with Rahul on 106, and Kohli looking ominous on 67.

However, the final session spoiled India’s day, and gave Australia just the inspiration they needed after toiling hard. Rahul was guilty of pulling once again from way outside off, as Starc caught him off his own bowling ending the 141 run partnership. But the damage for India was done by Shane Watson, of all people. Watson removed Rahane and Raina in two balls to give Australia an enormous lift – although Rahane was unlucky to be given leg before as the ball was clearly missing leg. The pressure was right back on India who, at 292-5, were still 282 runs behind.

Meanwhile, Kohli who was watching this from the other end had just completed his fourth century of the series breaking all sorts of records in the process. He became the first Indian batsman after Sunil Gavaskar (who did it twice) to score four hundreds in a test series. Kohli also became the first ever captain to score three consecutive hundreds in his first three innings as captain.

It was as if he was batting on a completely different surface. He still drove the ball on the up which is an extremely difficult thing to do on a slow pitch like this. His cover drive for four off Harris – an over after Rahul got out – was orgasmic. Kohli hit two more boundaries in that over – an authorative pull and a dab past gully, breaking Harris’ morale.

Kohli found good ally in Saha after the Watson double-wicket show. Saha survived the hat-trick ball and stayed there ’till stumps with his skipper as India ended day three on 342-5.

It was a good attritional day of test cricket. India, despite managing only 51 in the morning session, scored 271 in the day. The late wickets have given Australia just the lift they needed before stumps. Australia will know a couple of quick wickets in the morning and they could still get a lead of around 150. India, on the other hand would want to just bat and bat and bat..

Stumps Day Three:

Australia 572-7dec (152.3 Overs)
Smith 117, Warner 101

Shami 5-112

India 342-5 (115 Overs)

Kohli 140*, Saha 10*

Rahul 110

Watson 2-42

Starc 2-77

About Viraj Deshpande

A 22 year old journalism grad and an absolute cricket tragic who believes test cricket is greater than everything else under the Sun. Viraj spends his afternoons-evenings-late nights-early mornings running


  1. Great summary of Day 3 at the SCG, Viraj. It will be interesting to see how close India gets to Australia’s total – all rests with Virat Kohli. Quite amazing stat about Kohli becoming the first man to score centuries in his first three innings as Test captain. From memory, Steve Smith is the first bloke to score a century in each of his first three Tests as skipper.

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