By: Pramod Thomas
VIRAT KOHLI hit his first Test century in more than three years with a towering 186 as India batted themselves out of danger of a series-levelling defeat to Australia in the fourth Test on Sunday (12).
The hosts finished their first innings on 571 to overhaul Australia’s 480 and get a first-innings lead of 91 on another run-filled day four at the world’s biggest cricket stadium in Ahmedabad.
Kohli was the last man out after he fell to Todd Murphy in the final session of play as India lost their ninth wicket and Shreyas Iyer did not bat due to back pain.
Australia reached three for no loss at stumps with Travis Head getting the runs while alongside nightwatchman Matthew Kuhnemann.
The left-handed Kuhnemann made a surprise entry to the crease after opener Usman Khawaja, who hit 180 in Australia’s innings, did not come out to bat after getting hurt on the field.
Kohli ruled the day with his 28th Test ton after he got a single off spinner Nathan Lyon in the second session to bring the house down as fans went wild with celebration.
Kohli, who now has 75 international tons across three international formats, kissed his locket before looking up to the sky.
Resuming on 59 after reaching his first Test half-century on Saturday since January 2022, the landmark came after a patient innings of 241 balls.
Kohli then hit a flurry of fours after reaching his hundred and along with an attacking Axar Patel, who made 79, put on a marathon stand of 162 for the sixth wicket.
Khawaja attempted to catch an Axar six at the boundary but could not stay inside the rope, hurting his foot in the process and limping off the field.
Kohli got past 150 after tea and Axar raised his third half-century of the series to wear down the opposition bowlers on a pitch vastly different from the rank turners in the previous three matches.
Spinners Lyon and Murphy bowled 110.5 overs between to get three wickets each on another day of hard grind for the bowlers.
Axar went into fifth gear after his fifty as he slogged and smashed Kuhnemann for two sixes in an over before being bowled off an inside edge by Mitchell Starc.
Kohli lost his overnight partner Ravindra Jadeja for 28 in the morning session and Srikar Bharat fell in the afternoon after the wicketkeeper-batsman hit 44 in an 84-run partnership with the former captain.
Iyer didn’t come out to bat after he went for scans following complaints of lower back pain after the end of day three.
Opener Shubman Gill led India’s strong reply on Saturday with his 128 before he fell to Lyon, who returned with figures of 3-151 from 65 overs.
India need a win to clinch the series and be sure of a berth in the World Test Championship final in June.