SCG Test, Australia v India – Day Three: The Kohli Masterclass

We are in the pink today and congratulations to Sydney as they continue to embrace the McGrath Foundation. I never have seen so many hues of pink.

Haven’t mentioned it before, but walking through the Avenue of Honour at the SCG is one of sport’s feel-good treats. The Avenue honours people from a variety of sports, but in particular the football codes (Rugby and League), cricket and athletics. Australia does a great job in honouring their sporting heroes. Something that the non-sports lovers frown about, but sport has been a great part of the fabric of Australia since the early 1800s. In fact, where would our nation be without sport?

The Australians bowl exceptionally well in the first session. The two youngsters in Starc and Hazelwood are learning from each game and their efforts here are no exception. Harris – as usual – is on the spot.

No dramatics about Smith’s captaincy. He does not make many field changes during an over like his counterpart Kholi does. There is a calm reassurance about his captaincy and that augurs well for the future for Australia.

18 runs in the first hour was not great cricket from the spectator’s point of view. Rahul and Sharma are circumspect and do not play too many rash shots. It is good grounding for the two young Indians.

The biggest cheer of the morning is for former cricketing PM Bob Hawke. No hiding from the TV cameras and Hawke is caught with a red in his hand at 11a.m. in the morning. As the old poster used to say “I always has one at 11”. Loves his cricket does Bobby. [And as the Late, great Maurie Fields used to say; “It’s four o’clock somewhere…” – Ed]

Whilst the faster bowlers had kept the runs down, it took the introduction of Lyon before the first wicket fell for the day. Sharma had reached his 50 with five fours and two sixes but fell when he tried an audacious sweep of Lyon and was bowled for 53. India 2-97.

Kohli receives a mixture of cheers and boos when he enters the arena. Let us hope that the boos are terms of endearment. He nearly goes first ball but then sets about his business.

Caught up with artist Kate Birrell at lunch time to discuss a project I have in mind for the citrus capitol of Australia. As the chief exponent of “cricket is art and art is cricket” I am looking to hold an exhibition in Mildura during this year. Any budding sports artists give me a call.

After lunch there is a sensation when Smith drops Rahul on 46 of Watson. Sensational in the fact that Smith blamed the spider-cam for his misfortune. The eminent cricket coach in Melbourne will be having a heart attack.

The visitors continue with their slow but sure progress and Rahul proceeds towards a very patient 50. After his debacle in Melbourne this is a great redress for the youngster.

J.T.H gave me an assignment yesterday to catch up with ‘The Richie’s’ but unfortunately they did not appear on the scene. The Benauds’ have put on notice that they wish for day two of the Sydney Test to be officially known as “Richie Day”.

The Richie’s were formed in 2010 as homage to the legendary Richie Benaud when about a dozen people got together. Now the group has more than 350 members and looking forward to becoming bigger! More beige jackets to be made.

Once again Kohli is giving a Master Class. Throughout this summer three players have dominated the scene: Kohli, Smith and Warner. They have provided all batsmen with many educational hints.

Rahul and Kohli have proved very stubborn throughout the second session. They both have played some fine strokes. The 200 comes up from 473 balls compared to Australia’s 267 balls, certainly gives an indicator of how the two teams have batted.

Smith puts down his second catch of the day when he drops Kohli (56) off the unlucky Starc with the score on 217.

Rahul reaches his maiden test century in the last over before tea. It has been a great innings full of concentration and some fine shot making. His century comes 253 balls with 11 fours and a six.

A fine partnership and India go to tea on 2-234 Rahul 106 Kohli 67.

As usual the break brings a wicket. Rahul (110) tried to pull Starc and Starc had to virtually stand alongside Rahul to take the catch. 3-238. Rahul hit 12 fours and a six in his long innings. Starc has been the best bowler today.

Kohli attacks and hits Harris for five fours in two overs. He is well supported by Ajinkya Rahane, fresh from his century in Melbourne. The pair really bat well together.

Newcomer Joe Burns is having a horror of a day at silly mid-off. Where is Marnus Labuschagne when you need him?

Kholi reaches his 100 by driving Hazelwood down the ground for two. 162 balls with seventeen fours. He joins exulted company of Englishmen Walter Hammond and Herbert Sutcliffe of scoring four centuries in a series in Australia. The enjoyment one has got from him has been fantastic.

All of a sudden the game changes Rahane (13) goes LBW to Watson. India are 4-292. Next ball, Suresh Raina tickles Watto through to Haddin and the tourists are 5-292. Watto will be thanking The Age’s Greg Baum for his incisive story this morning.

Meanwhile Kholi keeps the ball rolling; mainly towards the boundary. I am getting to the stage where I cannot find enough superlatives to describe this fellow’s batting without repeating myself. Wriddhiman Saha gives him great support and is playing for a permanent keeping position in the team.

The crowd is 28,167 – the largest of the three days: such is the power of the McGrath Foundation here in Sydney.

Kohli (140) and Saha (14) control the game until stumps and India at the close of play are 5-342. Rather disappointing that the crowd applause for Kohli at the end of the day was minimal. He deserved more.

The Australian bowlers toiled manfully with Watson and Starc both taking two wickets. Harris went wicketless for the first time in a long while, and perhaps he too should have been rotated out of the Test.

Unlike other days in the series this was a day when both teams had to work hard. It was a typical Test day, with neither side giving anything to the opposition.

A day the pink crowd enjoyed in more ways than one.

 

 

If you’re an artist and would like to be involved in Citrus Bob’s Cricket and Art exhibition, use the email link in Bob’s biography to register your interest.

 

 

About Bob Utber

At 75 years of age, 'Citrus Bob' Utber is doing what he wanted to do as a 14-year old: writing, talking and watching sport. How good is that!?! He lives in Mildura with his wife and 'furry kids'; a labradoodle "Freddy Flintoff" and a groodle named "Chloe on Flinders".

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