Monday, June 24, 2024

Kohli and Dhoni bring India back into the game


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Nagpur: Virat Kohli slammed a patient century while captain MS Dhoni missed his by just one run as the duo showed admirable tenacity under pressure to lead a remarkable Indian fightback which has restored the balance in the fourth and final cricket Test against England here on Saturday.

Resuming at a precarious 87 for 4 in response to England’s first innings total of 330, Kohli (103) and Dhoni (99)played with great discipline and curbed their natural strokeplay on a slow track as the hosts reached 297 for eight at close on the third day, which was dominated by the home team.

Ravichandran Ashwin was batting on seven when play was called off after Piyush Chawla’s dismissal, with India still trailing by 33 runs.

The young Kohli, who has been woefully out of form in the series, notched up his third Test century while Dhoni also silenced his detractors as the pair added 198 runs for the fifth wicket to bring India back into the game.

The Indians, who desperately need to win the match to level the four-match series 2-2, put up a good fightback through Dhoni and Kohli in a partnership that lasted for 84.3 overs. Both of them played their longest Test match knock in terms of balls faced.

It was an uncharacteristically subdued knock by Dhoni who consumed as many as 246 balls before being tragically run out for 99, much to the dismay of the vociferous crowd.

Dhoni has been under tremendous pressure after the back-to-back defeats in Mumbai and Kolkata and he showed great character to rise to the occasion with his resolute effort in difficult batting conditions to bail the team out of trouble.

With two days left in the game, India will seek to take a decent first innings lead and put pressure on England, who need only a draw to record their first series triumph on Indian soil in 28 years.

Spinner Graeme Swann broke the marathon partnership when he trapped Kohli leg before while debutant Ravindra Jadeja (12) and Chawla (1) fell soon after to peg India back a little bit by the end of the day.

Kolhi faced 295 balls and his third Test ton in 14 games was laced with 11 fours, while Dhoni came up with a captain’s rearguard knock that was inclusive of eight fours and a six and during which he faced 246 balls.

Kolhi completed his hundred with a square cut for four off Swann and then jumped up in joy to be applauded warmly by the crowd before he was trapped leg before by the England off-spinner in the first over after drinks.

Kohli said this was the innings he had been waiting to play for some time.

“I was waiting for this one long innings. I was working hard for the last one month. You can’t keep performing every innings and there will be ups and downs. But you need to stay positive whether you do well or not. That’s what I did,” he said.

“Mentally I was feeling really good (right through the series). I got into the 20s three times, probably got a good ball in Ahmedabad. I made a few mistakes, after that I was waiting for this one innings. I was not doubting myself at all. Not thinking about what people were saying about me.”

The departure of Kohli was followed soon by that of debutant Jadeja who was trapped leg before by James Anderson, the wrecker-in-chief on Friday with a three-wicket haul, with a ball that jagged back sharply into the left hander when the floodlights were on.

Dhoni lost his wicket in his eagerness to get to his sixth Test ton. He drove Anderson to mid-off, but just failed to beat counterpart Alastair Cook’s accurate throw.

Stating that he was sorry to see Dhoni depart for 99, Kohli said, “It was disappointing to see MS get out because he worked hard the whole day.”

Kohli still sees a big chance for India to win the game as he feels that batting in the second innings would not be easy.

“I don’t think second innings batting would be easy. You never know, cricket is a funny game, can get 3-4 wickets quickly and put the opposition under pressure.” (PTI)


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