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

Kohli's coming of age

ESPNcricinfo presents the plays of the day from the third day in Nagpur

Milestone of the day
Virat Kohli richly deserved his third Test century. The deathly slow pitch and some tight bowling forced him to work hard for his runs but he retained his concentration and discipline to help his side retain their hopes of levelling the series. His previous Test centuries had taken 199 balls (against Australia) and 187 balls (against New Zealand), but here he was forced to work for 289 balls before reaching three figures.

His top score in the series before this innings was 20 as England worked on his impatience, tied him down and waited. While Kohli might have succumbed to temptation in the other games, here he demonstrated his growing maturity to play just the sort of innings his side required.

Near miss of the day
Can a player ever have missed out on a Test century by a smaller margin than MS Dhoni? Having been stuck in the 90s for 17 overs having lost most of the strike - he faced only 30 deliveries in that period - Dhoni finally pushed the ball to mid-off and embarked on a very tight single. A direct hit from Alastair Cook and Dhoni's failure to fully run his bat in meant that he was run-out by the narrowest margin: it took TV replays from three different angles before there was conclusive evidence that Dhoni was a centimetre or so out of his ground. While missing out on the personal milestone would have been a disappointment, Dhoni need not have worried.

His stand with Kohli - worth 198 - had brought India right back into the game and renewed their hopes of squaring this series. Such issues are far more important that personal milestones. But bearing in mind the pressure that Dhoni and his team were under at the start of play, it is just possible that this might prove to be a career-saving performance.

Damning stat of the day
Tim Bresnan has now bowled 448 deliveries since his last Test wicket. It was August 2 when Graeme Smith turned a leg stump half volley to square leg and since then Bresnan has gone wicketless in four innings to take his bowling average in 2012 to 55.43. Nor can he claim his batting is justifying selection: in eight Tests this year he has contributed 120 runs with a highest score of 39 not out and an average of 17.14.

Chance of the day
It says much for the discipline of the batsmen and the lack of threat in the bowling that ball barely beat bat throughout the day. The closest England came to a wicket in the first two sessions was when Dhoni was on 72. Twice Bresnan was convinced he had trapped his man lbw with deliveries that nipped back, though replays suggested the umpire, Rod Tucker, was quite right to conclude they were slipping down the leg side. But Dhoni did survive a mishit on the same score when he pushed the ball back to Bresnan but the bowler was unable to cling on to a desperately difficult, low chance.

Ominous sign of the day?
For large parts of the third day, England's bowlers found nothing in this slow surface. Despite signs that it was beginning to turn on the second evening, the pitch seemed to have grown even slower on the third day and offered little to batsmen or bowlers. But, from the final delivery, Graeme Swann drew Piyush Chawla forward and turned one just enough to beat the outside edge and strike off stump. It would be wrong to read too much into the dismissal of a lower-order batsman but was a wicket that may just have caused the spinners of both sides to sit up and take notice with two days still to play.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo