India began day 3 at MCG with losing Pujara’s wicket off the second ball. Alarm bells must have begun sounding in Indian camp as Pujara perished to a poorly played shot. Virat Kohli joined Murali Vijay but their partnership didn’t last long. Kohli watched with dismay as Vijay almost emulated Pujara in trying to cut Watson’s ball away from his body. After showing enormous patience for long, Vijay needlessly threw his wicket. It was at this point that Ajinkya Rahane and Virat Kohli came together. They settled down and thwarted Australian bowlers for four hours. In the process they re-built the fractured innings and suddenly everything started looking bright for Indian supporters. Both batsmen scored centuries and took the total past the 400-mark. But after Rahane got out in the 108th over, Kohli ran out of partners and four more wickets fell for just 56 runs to show all was not indeed well with the middle order. Kohli was the last India wicket to fall on the third day and India finished at 462/8; still 68 runs behind Australia.
The third day at the MCG brought a disastrous start for India. Opening the bowling for Australia on Sunday, Ryan Harris bowled one to Pujara, who couldn’t make room for himself as he drove. All Pujara could manage was a nick that was brilliantly held by a diving Haddin in front of the first slip. In walked Virat Kohli, who had a bad second test for some odd reasons. Vijay was going strong at the other end and the two batsmen tried to build the innings together. But at 147, Vijay played hastily and literally gifted his wicket to Shane Watson. It was a sad way for Vijay, who had been patient for a long while. But suddenly, he lost his bearings and lashed out at an away going ball to be smartly snapped up by Shaun Marsh at first slip. At 147/3, Ajinkya Rahane walked up and joined Kohli in the middle.
From the very start, the two batsmen avoided risky shots except once in Lyon’s 9th over, when Rahane’s shot whizzed between the keeper and the slip. But otherwise neither Kohli nor Rahane did anything adventurous. The short spell of reverse swing from Ryan Harris was dealt with adequately by the two batsmen. Slowly and steadily, runs became to flow as both Rahane and Kohli went for their shots. In the 63rd over, Kohli took 7 runs off Johnson to reach his half century. The lunch time score was 224/3 and the two batsmen continued in the same vein afterwards. In 71st over from Hazlewood, Rahane also completed his fifty and by this time, the partnership had yielded 92 and became 100 when Hazlewood came on again in his next over. Rahane reached the century mark ahead of Kohli in 90th over by a playing a thick outside edge past gully. Soon, Kohli also reached the 100 mark in the 94th over from Nathan Lyon. In the 99th over from Johnson, Kohli collected 15 runs as India crossed the 350 mark and their stand exceeded 200. In his next over, Johnson conceded 12 more, this time to Rahane.
In the 108th over bowled by Lyon, Rahane played a sweep shot and dispatched the third ball to the leg side. On the next ball, he tried the same stroke, missed the straighter trajectory and received it on his pads. The umpire took his time but once convinced, he raised his finger. The 262-run partnership between Rahane and Kohli had finally been broken. Kohli crossed over to pat Rahane’s back and as the Mumbai batsman walked back, he got a standing ovation from the crowd for a superb innings. Rahane’s departure brought the Indian innings to its old self. Test debutant KL Rahul faced only 8 balls for his 3 runs, Dhoni failed to inspire the batting and after being run-less for 9 balls, fell to Ryan Harris for 11. Dhoni’s was the 6th wicket for Australia and more were yet to come. New man Ashwin didn’t last long either and gave a return catch to Harris before getting off-the-mark. After facing 272 balls, Virat Kohli finally got out to a brilliant catch by Haddin in the last over of the day. From a position of strength, India handed over the advantage back to Australia as the day closed.
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