Ahmedabad: Talismanic batter Virat Kohli ended his Test century drought in a productive afternoon session to bring India on the verge of taking the lead in the fourth and final Test against Australia at the Narendra Modi Stadium on Sunday.
At tea, India are 472/5 in 158 overs, and trail Australia by just eight runs. Kohli is unbeaten on 135 off 291 balls and has stitched an unfinished 79-run partnership with Axar Patel, who is 38 not out off 75 balls.
While India collected 110 runs from this session, Kohli ending the wait for his 28th Test century and his first in the format since the hundred against Bangladesh in November 2019 at Kolkata, would be etched for long in the minds of spectators.
Kohli got his long-awaited hundred in 241 balls, his second slowest century after his ton against England in the 2012/13 series coming off 289 balls, showing utmost discipline, determination and patience to play a long innings and get India into a strong position.
Australia began the session with a short-ball ploy from their pacers. But in the third over, KS Bharat took on Cameron Green with successive pulled sixes, followed by an elegant cut through deep-point on a no-ball.
Bharat’s fine cameo came to an end on 44 when he came forward to defend off Nathan Lyon. But the off-spinner got the ball to turn and bounce, taking the inside edge to short-leg. His wicket also meant Lyon went past Derek Underwood for the most Test wickets in India by a visiting bowler.
When Kohli reached 99, there was anticipation in the air and the spectators brought out their mobiles to capture the century moment. It arrived on the second ball of the 139th over when Kohli came forward against Lyon and played a flick through square leg for a single to break the long drought of 1205 days for a century in Test cricket.
A sedate Kohli took off his helmet and raised his bat to acknowledge the applause from a Sunday crowd before kissing his wedding ring and looking to the skies in subdued celebrations of reaching the three-figure mark in Tests.
With the pitch still not looking treacherous, Kohli brought out off-drive and glance through the backward square leg off Mitchell Starc for a brace of boundaries. He took the attack to the spinners, pulling Todd Murphy between backward square leg and short fine leg while driving on the up against Lyon for another boundary.
Axar also joined the party with some boundaries, including an effortless loft over a leaping long-off for six off Murphy, resulting in Usman Khawaja limping off the field. He then cut off Matthew Kuhnemann through cover for a boundary to put India on the verge of taking the lead in the match.
Brief scores: Australia 480 lead India 472/5 in 158 overs (Virat Kohli 135 not out, Shubman Gill 128; Todd Murphy 2-86, Nathan Lyon 2-124) by 8 runs