India vs Australia 2013: Superb double ton by Dhoni as India take control of 1st Test
Chennai: Mahendra Singh Dhoni gave an exhibition of blistering strokeplay to hit a career-best undefeated 206 while Virat Kohli cracked 107 as India rode on their captain`s batting brilliance to gain control of the first cricket Test against Australia by taking a substantial 135-run first innings lead here on Sunday.
Dhoni produced a stunning counter-attacking knock to notch up his maiden double hundred, his sixth Test century overall, while Kohli recorded his fourth in longer format as the hosts reached a commanding 515 for eight at close, on an eventful third day`s play.
The Indian captain set the M A Chidambaram stadium ablaze with his amazing strokeplay as he smashed 22 boundaries and five sixes during his 243-ball assault much to the delight of a sizeable Sunday crowd which cheered the Indians as they went about consolidating their position in the match.
Dhoni, who was agonisingly run out for 99 against England in India last Test in Nagpur, changed the complexion of the game with his aggressive batting after the hosts lost Sachin Tendulkar (81) early in the morning session. Tendulkar, who gave glimpses of his vintage form on Saturday, could add just ten runs to his tally.
The Indians found the going a little tough in the pre-lunch session as the runs dried up but the second new ball ball saw the game slipping away from the Australians as both Dhoni and Kohli attacked the bowlers with an array of shots on both sides of the wicket.
The duo added 128 runs for the fifth wicket before off-spinner Nathan Lyon provided the breakthrough for the visitors with India still 56 runs short of Australia`s first innings total.
Kohli paid the price for a lapse in concentration as he tried to lift a dlivery from Nathan Lyon over mid-on but could not get the desired elevation and Mitchell Starc latched on to a good catch. Kohli clobbered 15 boundaries and a six during his 206-ball knock.
Dhoni then took centrestage and virtually singlehandedly took India to a position of strength with a superb batting display in hot and humid conditions.
After Kohli`s dismissal, India lost another three wickets in periodic intervals as Ravindra Jadeja (16), Ravichandran Ashwin (3) and Harbhajan Singh (11) were back in the pavilion.
However Bhuvneshwar Kumar (15 batting) complemented his skipper really well as they put on a record 109 runs for ninth wicket partnership against Australia.
There were times when Dhoni shielded Bhuvneshwar from the Aussie attack as he refused singles on a number of occasions.
The humidity took its toll but the skipper never gave in. Whenever the Aussies tried to keep him quiet, he responded with a typical big hit either straight or towards the deep mid-wicket range.
The 31-year-old Dhoni recorded the highest score by an Indian wicket keeper, eclipsing Budhi Kundaran previous best of 192 scored against England in 1964 at Madras Corporation Stadium.
Dhoni also surpassed 4000 Test runs during his game-changing knock.
With couple of days left in the match, India will look to increase their lead as much as possible and then try to push for victory by bundling out out the Aussies cheaply in the second innings as the track is expected to deteriorate gradually.
With rough being created by the bowler`s footmarks on both sides of the track, the Indian team would expect both in-form Ashwin and senior pro Harbhajan to make best use of the conditions so that India doesn`t have to bat last on this track. Even if they come out to bat, they would expect the target to be less than 50 runs which will mean that batsmen won`t be under any kind of pressure.
Ideally, Dhoni would be expecting that Bhuvneshwar provides him with the same kind of support on Monday which will enable him to take the lead closer to 200 runs.
The launchpad of this furious assault certainly was the 128-run fifth wicket partenrship with Kohli as India went into tea at a relatively comfortable score of 371 for six.
While Australia were hoping that the second new ball will help them make some decisive inroads into the Indian lower middle-order, Dhoni thought otherwise.
The new ball was taken in the 83rd over and in the next seven overs, Dhoni-Kohli duo had smashed the Aussie bowlers to the cleaners to score 54 runs.
If Kohli was ready to wait for the loose deliveries, Dhoni was even hitting the full-pitched deliveries over the bowler`s head.
With a bottom-handed grip and powerful wrists, the Jharkhand dasher generated enormous power behind each of his shots with minimal backlift as the ball flew to all corners of the ground.
Kohli completed his century when he clipped a full inswinging delivery from James Pattinson to the square leg fence. The celebration was very unlike Kohli as there was a satisfying smile and no aggressive gesture as one normally associates with the Delhi lad.
Although, Kohli was out for 107, all-rounder Jadeja hung around for a while before shouldering arms to a delivery from Pattinson that knocked his off-stump back.
At the break, Dhoni was holding fort with R Ashwin (3) giving him company.
Dhoni completed his century off 119 balls by hitting Siddle over fine leg for a boundary.
While his first 100 came off 119 balls, his second hundred was a touch faster as he took another 112 balls to reach the landmark.
Among the Australian bowlers, Pattinson was certainly the best as he got four for 89 from his 26 overs but Siddle and Starc will be disappointed on not being able to get breakthroughs despite bowling 47 overs between them.
While left-arm pacer Starc wasn`t able to hit the right length consistently, Siddle atleast managed to keep things tight. Nathan Lyon (3/182 in 40 overs) predictably bowled the most number of overs but was clobbered consistently by Dhoni.
Australian captain Clarke will certainly feel that he played a spinner short in this match.