Virat Kohli stands tall but India slump to defeat against Australia
India virtually snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, slumping to an agonising 48-run loss in the pulsating first cricket Test against Australia despite captain Virat Kohli's gallant second successive hundred in the match here on Saturday.
Adelaide: India virtually snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, slumping to an agonising 48-run loss in the pulsating first cricket Test against Australia despite captain Virat Kohli's gallant second successive hundred in the match here on Saturday.
Chasing a competitive target of 364, India were cruising along comfortably at 242/2 before the hosts staged a dramatic comeback to grab eight wickets for 73 runs and take a 1-0 lead in the four-match series.
The Indians folded for 315 in 87.1 overs with Kohli (141) and Murali Vijay (99) being the only ones to notch up noteworthy knocks even as seven batsmen departed without touching the double digit mark.
Kohli became only the second player in Test history to score a century in both innings on his debut as captain but the stupendous feat was completely overshadowed by the shockingly inept performance by his other batting colleagues, who seemed bent on committing harakiri.
Off-spinner Nathan Lyon was the pick of the Australian bowler as he exploited the rough on the track to good effect to finish with figures for 7/152 for an overall haul of 12 wickets in the match. Lyon was adjudged Man of the Match for his superlative effort.
The result will come as a huge disappointment for the Indians, who virtually lost the match in the very last session when eight wickets fell in quick succession.
Kohli was left to rue yet another of India's infamous batting collapses after putting the team in a rather comfortable position right up till the tea session with a career-best knock. He was dismissed by Lyon.
For Kohli, it was his eighth career hundred even though he was left a disappointed man on his debut as captain. He got good support from Murali Vijay who was unlucky, missing out on what could have been his fifth Test hundred by just one run.
Kohli's knock of 141 runs came off 175 balls and was laced with 16 fours and a six adding to his first-innings' knock of 115 runs.
Lyon picked up the best figures for a spinner against India in Australia with a match-haul of 12-286 to go with his 5-134 in his first innings.
This was after Australia had declared at their overnight score of 290/5. They had scored 517/7d in their first innings to which India had replied with 444 runs in their first attempt.
Lyon was ably supported by Mitchell Johnson (2-45) and Ryan Harris (1-49). Peter Siddle (0-21), Shane Watson (0-6), Mitchell Marsh (0-11) and Steve Smith (0-18) were the other bowlers used.
Kohli became the second Indian batsman after Vijay Hazare to score two hundreds (116 and 148 in 1947-48) in a Test at Adelaide.
Among Indian batsmen, he became the fourth after Hazare, Sunil Gavaskar (thrice) and Rahul Dravid (twice) to achieve this feat. Another record was broken as Lyon became the first Australian spinner to take 10 wickets in a Test against India at home. That record was previously held by Ian Johnson (8-94 at Melbourne) in 1947-48.
The last session began with Kohli and Vijay raising visions of an Indian win. They carried on from where they left off before the break, attacking the spinner and playing cautiously against the pacers. In the 69th over of the innings, Kohli reached his eighth Test hundred off 135 balls, sparking his customary wild celebrations.
In doing so, he matched Greg Chappell's feat of scoring twin hundreds in a Test in his first match as captain. The Australian had achieved it against the West Indies in 1975-76 at Brisbane.
There were more celebrations anticipated in the next over as Vijay was a solitary run away from an immaculate and richly deserved hundred, but it was not to be. He went for a back-foot flick but missed the ball completely to be out LBW.
He scored 99 runs off 234 balls, hitting 10 fours and two sixes.
That opened the floodgates as India lost their last eight wickets for 73 runs, collapsing from 242/3 to 315 all out.
Ajinkya Rahane (0) was given out wrongly, caught at short leg but replays showed there was no bat involved.
Rohit Sharma (6) looked clumsy and uncomfortable in the middle under intense pressure and after playing a few sweep shots against Lyon, was caught brilliantly at backward short leg by David Warner as the ball looped off his glove.
Wriddhiman Saha (13) hit a couple of lusty blows but went too far against Lyon, as one turned in sharply from the rough to bowl him through the gate.
Thereafter it was down to Kohli to soldier along alone and try to get India to the finish line. But even as Australia delayed the new ball, he went after Lyon for a big hit and was caught in the deep, not believing for some time that he was dismissed.
Mohammad Shami (5), Ishant Sharma (1) and Varun Aaron (1) had no answers to the hosts' push for victory thereafter and they folded up without much fight.
Earlier, in the post-lunch session, half centuries from Vijay and Kohli helped fuel India's hope of victory as India only needed 159 runs with eight wickets remaining after tea.
Prior to that break, the two batsmen built he platform for the possibility of a push for victory in the final session of play.
Kohli was the main architect of this plan since he had attacked Lyon ever since he came to the crease. After lunch, he continued with the ploy, hoisting the spinner for a six. He brought up his fifty in the 45th over, reaching there in 69 balls.
At the other end, Vijay was solid, and he too got to his eighth Test fifty off 131 balls, reaching the mark earlier in the 37th over. While Kohli kept the scoreboard ticking, Vijay was alert and watchful, not making any mistakes as the two snatched the momentum away from the hosts.
Perhaps the biggest blow to Australians came in the 44th over when skipper Michael Clarke injured his right hamstring while fielding and left the field. Four overs later, the 100-run partnership between the two came up.
Vijay gave one chance before the tea-break though, in the 59th over off Johnson, with Mitchell Marsh not latching to it at short cover.
The batsman was on 85 at that point in time but closed up again to avoid any more danger before the final session, bringing up the 200-run mark in the 60th over.
In the morning, Shikhar Dhawan (9) and Vijay took guard hoping that today would be the day to improve India's overseas record of not having a 50-run opening stand since 2011.
But it was not to be as Dhawan was given dubiously out in the fifth over as a short delivery from Johnson struck his shoulder on its way to the keeper.
While the left-handed batsman was obviously disappointed, Vijay had a life granted to him when later in the 16th over, against Lyon, he padded up to a delivery that spun in sharply.
He should have been adjudged out LBW but umpire Marais Erasmus thought differently. Vijay was batting on 24 at that time and had just hit the spinner for a mighty six previously, taking the Indian score past the 50-mark in the company of Cheteshwar Pujara.
The number three batsman had a tough time against Lyon as he was caught back on his crease many times, with the bowler looking to use the rough areas consistently. Only with two successive boundaries off the backfoot in the 14th over, he had managed to release some pressure.
But his uncomfortable vigil at the crease didn't last long as Lyon broke through in the 20th over finally, a delivery that held its line taking a healthy outside edge for keeper Brad Haddin to snap up his second catch in the innings.
Pujara scored 21 runs off 38 balls, inclusive of 4 boundaries.
Skipper Kohli joined Vijay in the middle then and the two batted without much fuss for the remainder 14 overs in the session. The two batsmen brought up the 100-run mark in the 31st over.