India v England, 4th Test, Nagpur, 3rd day December 15, 2012

Kohli ton buoys India before England hit back


India 297 for 8 (Kohli 103, Dhoni 99) trail England 330 by 33 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

India still have hope of levelling the series against England after a mammoth stand of 198 between Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni on the third day in Nagpur, but their chances of a lead were hit by the loss of late wickets.

The Test continued to move along in slow-motion - a tempo dictated by the pitch - but Kohli responded with his most mature Test innings and Dhoni looked set to join him on three figures only to be run out for 99 shortly before the close after his innings seized up in the nineties.

As much as the first two sessions were a credit to India, who showed the fighting spirit that has been lacking at stages in this series, the final hour highlighted England's standards of perseverance and fitness as they claimed 4 for 28.

Before tea a few frustrations had started to emerge but they maintained, or regained, their focus. It started with Kohli, lbw to Graeme Swann from around the wicket, then the debutant, Ravindra Jadeja, was trapped in front by James Anderson.

Dhoni spent more than an hour in the 90s before trying for his hundred with a single to mid-off where Alastair Cook swooped and hit directly. It was a one-frame job for the third umpire, S Ravi, but the straight-on view showed clearly the bat was not over the line. To cap England's comeback Swann bowled Piyush Chawla with the first ball of the last over.

Even though the day largely consisted of watching two of the finest attacking batsman in the world, the batting was rarely pretty, except when Kohli was playing his cover drive on the way to a third Test century. In 89.1 overs India added 210 runs but batting through the day was the minimum they needed if they were to stand any chance of levelling the series. Conceding a large lead, which appeared likely when they resumed on 87 for 4, would have left them with no way back but now they have the opportunity to apply some pressure to England over the final two days.

Dhoni's slowest Test fifty turned into his longest Test innings, but the longer he and Kohli remained, the greater the prospect of India building a lead and leaving England with nothing to do but bat out time. The final hour scuppered those plans. Still, from India's point of view the game needed to move forward because they still need time to take ten England wickets to stand any chance. Strange things can happen in the third innings of Tests even though such benign conditions do not suggest dramatic developments.

As with many players in the India team both Kohli and Dhoni were men under pressure, Kohli because of a lean series at the end of a profitable year and Dhoni because he is leading a side that is underperforming while his own returns have not been overwhelming. So it was to their immense credit that they resisted and shelved the free-flowing scoring they are known for although it was another example, as with Joe Root, that run-scoring, not survival, is the main challenge on this surface.

Kohli's was a magnificent display because it was out of character. He loves nothing more than to go after the bowling and it has been his downfall at times in this series. Here, though, it was about defence first and attacking second. Only when the ball was very full or short did he allow himself the luxury of either a drive or a cut. His hundred came off 289 balls with a crisp back-foot drive off Swann, his 11th boundary, before Swann finally gave England some relief when Kohli was lbw from around the wicket.

The ball had turned just enough to beat the forward defence and would have hit leg stump and meant that checking the record books could stop. Only on three previous occasions - Barbados in 1960, Chennai in 1982 and Trent Bridge in 1989 - had England gone wicketless in the day. A handful of overs later and they would have been delighted with their haul of four scalps.

There was precious little on offer for the bowlers throughout the day. The significant reverse swing of the previous evening could not be replicated early on to show how these things are not an exact science.

Anderson was used carefully by Cook sending down 15 overs in the day and appeared to be struggling with a leg problem near the close but still had the skill to remove Jadeja. Tim Bresnan toiled away at the end of a poor year for him while the spinners were tight but was stymied by the unresponsive pitch although Monty Panesar did manage to spin a couple past the bat during a wicketless 46-over stint.

The second new ball was taken almost straight away but, if anything, the extra hardness aided India for a time. Dhoni slashed the first delivery from Anderson through point and later launched Swann over deep midwicket for the first six of the innings.

However, they were occasional moments of aggression and acceleration even though India are chasing the series. But a bad day for them and it would have been over. Thanks to Dhoni and Kohli they live to fight on.

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • John on December 16, 2012, 17:24 GMT

    @ Jose Puliampatta on (December 16 2012, 00:30 AM GMT) Thanks alot for your kind words. Much appreciated

  • John on December 16, 2012, 17:23 GMT

    @ CoreDump on (December 16 2012, 14:07 PM GMT) Others can speak for themselves but how am I a hypocrite ? btw I have said stuff to some of our cheerleaders in the past but what's the point ? Do you fire back at similar comments made by your fans which you know are rubbish and I couldn't even see a comment made by that person on that subject on this thread. Personally I don't have an issue with excessive appealing or whatever. The umpires are paid to do a job and the authorities are there to punish those who they think have overstepped the mark. Also I guess the tolerance level with umpires maybe slightly higher with no DRS and I have a theory that if you keep making ridiculous appeals the borderline decs will go against you

  • FirstName on December 16, 2012, 14:07 GMT

    @ A_Vacant_Slip, @JG2704 and all their mates - That comment was specifically meant for Front-Foot-Lunge. I know sometimes players appeal for ridiculous things, and sometimes umpires do give them out. But Front-Foot-Lunge is always questioning only the Indian players for such appeals (case in point: Ishant's appeal yesterday), as if the England players would die first rather than make such appeals. I take it you never read his comments? Otherwise, since you all are so "fair", you would've shouted at him too.

    How ridiculous of me eh? To point to only Front-Foot-Lunge as the British Hypocrite, while in essence everyone from England is one? Thanks for strengthening my case guys.

    @Valavan - Look up that (whole) word if you don't know its meaning. Your "comeback" reeks of childishness.

  • steve on December 16, 2012, 13:30 GMT

    @ Farukafaj YOUR QUOTE - " I think India has a better chance of winning. England will crumble at second innings to 150 , india will chase down on 5th day tea" -- in that parallel universe that is Planet India it may have happened, but in reality, there goes another prediction 161/3 at the close !!

  • Prashan on December 16, 2012, 6:56 GMT

    @samincolumbia, I respect Australia but do you know that it was Sri Lanka the first visiting team which defeated Australia in a T20 International at home, which happened in 2010? Do you know what happened in the ODI series that followed it in 2010 November? We won 2-1. Also, in the 7 ODIs between Sri Lanka and Australia in the CB series, we won 4 out of 7. I know you are having sleepless nights as Dilshan scored a ton. Chill out mate haha.

  • Dummy4 on December 16, 2012, 5:10 GMT

    I should say NO GOOD CRICKET BRAIN used by INDIA this morning!!! They WASTED one hour of play by following a very very strange tactic, which NOBODY in this world can UNDERSTAND!! What is the difference between a lead of 33 RUNS and a lead of 4 RUNS at the expense of which going to be look like a crunch 1 HOUR as far as a series levelling test match by INDIA is concerned!!

  • Dummy4 on December 16, 2012, 5:08 GMT

    A captain is only good as his team. Changing the captain won't make much difference because still you are going to hang around with the old people. Tactics may be different, but you still need individual performance along with team effort. Instead of blaming Dhoni, the selectors should try to change the team combination. If that also fails, then yes, there is a need for a new captain.

  • Vijay on December 16, 2012, 4:53 GMT

    We should not point out to Dhoni's Efficiency because he is keeping behind the stumps more than one half day , immediately came to bat it's not easy thing . But his playing on this test match is superb . he feels do to something for team , we have appreciate both Virat and Dhoni .Based on the situation they played . All senior should learn from this test . in the team every one should feel the responsibility carry the spirit and achieve the targets . Don't point out captain .BCCI should take action against Ex selector Amarnath and Curator of kolkotta Mr .Prabir , Both amar and prabir comments are impacted on team .

  • Imran on December 16, 2012, 4:52 GMT

    Indian side is absolutly boring to watch apart from Kohli. Somebody please beg a retirement from guys like Sachin and Sehwag. And Dhoni is most ugly batsman cricket has ever had.

  • Al on December 16, 2012, 4:33 GMT

    Excellent fightback by Dhoni and Kohli. Their partnership salvaged India from certain defeat. But England is still in control. Even if India declare now, I don't expect anything special from India's bowling. Ishant Sharma can't take a wicket, just like Sehwag and Tendulkar can't score runs. This should be the last match for all 3 of them.

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