On fifth day morning, die-hard Indian fans prayed for a draw in India’s first test against Australia at the Adelaide oval. 364 on the last day was far too much on the cracked pitch that had given five wickets to Nathan Lyons after India had posted 399/5 at the end of the third day. Of the 98 overs that India had to endure on Saturday, they consumed 19 and reached 57. But they lost two wickets. From this point onwards, saving the test match was the best choice rather than try winning against a formidable opponent. But there was Virat Kohli out in the middle and something was churning in his mind. He had a very capable partner with him at the other end and two of them talked frequently at mid-pitch. Slowly and steadily, the scenario began changing as the batsmen denied Australian bowlers, ball after another ball. No one know what Kohli told Vijay but it is possible that the captain reminded the opener that the team was able to manage 369 runs on the third day and 364 was less than 369. Well, Kohli and Vijay kept playing purposefully and inched towards the nearly impossible target. With the second-wicket stand continuing to blossom, lot of people began reading Kohli’s mind. The guy was not to give in. He held on and also kept his partner’s morale high. Just when the partnership reached 185 in almost 50 overs, Murli Vijay fell. That was the turning point since no other batsman supported Kohli afterwards. Vijay was also unlucky to miss his century by just one run. Kohli needed support but he couldn’t get any as the batsmen were caught in the magical web woven by Lyon, who ended the innings with a 7-wicket haul. His match tally became 12 and he earned the player of the match award after Kohli created a scare. Kohli went on to record his second century of the match but he looked devastated that his knock failed to save India, who lost by just 48 runs.
The last day began with Michael Clarke expectedly declaring before the start of play. India needed 364 for victory in 98 overs but Australia also had to bowl the entire side out within the same time frame. Indian supporters would have been happier if India had saved the match but for once, India didn’t earn any discredit for losing. Thanks to Virat Kohli’s bold approach, India came tantalizingly close to winning the test. It didn’t look so rosy in the morning, when India lost two wickets in the first session for just 57 runs. But Virat Kohli and Murali Vijay kept their heads down and carried the score to 105 by lunch. In the session between lunch and tea, India added 100 runs and suddenly there was hope. In Clarke’s absence, Brad Haddin assumed the mantle of leadership but Australia’s wicket-less plight continued further. When the final session began, India’s victory became the most plausible result.
Nathan Lyon was not able to extract anything out of the pitch and gave away 25 runs in his first four overs. Vijay scored off Lyon confidently, going for ones and twos and a couple of boundaries. His second boundary was an artistic flick from the off-side played towards midwicket that shot brought Vijay’s score to 99. In the next over from Ryan Harris Virat Kohli completed his second century of the match in just 135 balls. When Vijay faced Lyon’s next over, he fell prey to the nervous nineties. That probably caused his downfall as he exercised too much unwarranted caution. Vijay faced an off-break from Lyon that pitched in the rough outside off and turned viciously to him. Vijay, who had gone on back-foot to flick the ball, missed it as the ball banged on his pads. Umpire Erasmus had no problem in upholding the vociferous Australian appeal. For Kohli, however, it was the beginning of the problem. He needed to extract courage from every new batsman. The situation was still good as India required 122 runs with plenty of overs remaining and seven wickets were intact. But five balls later, Lyon consumed Ajinkya Rahane at the same score. Even as Rohit Sharma came to the crease, Lyon was slowly coming into his groove. He deceived Sharma with the flight as the batsman lunged on the off to defend. But the spinning delivery struck his glove and travelled to a gleeful Warner at leg slip. Next for Lyon was Wriddhiman Saha, who tried to emulate Kohli’s attacking strategy but Lyon deceived him as Saha was clean bowled going for a huge hit. Except Kohli, all other batsmen were back in the pavilion and victory for Australia became imminent. Kohli tried in desperation to score some fours and sixes to reduce the target. In one such attempt, he pulled Lyon but the flier was easily taken by Mitchell Marsh at deep midwicket. With Kohli gone, it was only a matter of time before the end came. Indian tail was not to last 16 odd overs that remained in the match.
Australia finally won by 48 runs with Nathan Lyon collecting 12 wickets from the match, including 7 in the second innings. But Kohli almost achieved the impossible. He saw light at the end of the tunnel but his batsmen didn’t support him through.
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