Viral Kohli became the first cricketer to score centuries in his first three innings as a Test captain and was still at the crease at the end of the third day of the fourth Test against Australia, with India on 342 for five in Sydney.
Kohli’s unbeaten 140 alongside Lokesh Rahul’s maiden century gave the tourists a strong reply to Australia’s 572-7 declared, although Shane Watson hit back with two wickets in as many balls. There was also some help in the form of the ‘Spidercam’ TV camera which apparently prevented Rahul being caught out on 46.
India, already 2-0 down in the four-match series, had resumed on 71-1 and restored a great deal of pride as well as reducing the deficit to 230 runs.
Rahul had more to prove than most after his torrid introduction to Test cricket in Melbourne last week, where he scored four runs in two innings.
The 22-year-old rode his luck and was forced to dive bat-less into the Sydney dirt to prevent being run out soon after Rohit Sharma (53) had become the only batsman to fall in the opening session.
He was perhaps even more fortunate to escape with his wicket just before lunch when, on 46, he ballooned the ball into the air but Steve Smith failed to hold the catch.
The Australian captain, who later also dropped Kohli on 59 at second slip, made it clear he believed the wire that holds the overhead TV ‘Spidercam’ in place had distracted him from dismissing Rahul.
But Rahul showed the sort of grit that his mentor Rahul Dravid would have been proud of at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
The 22-year-old came into the side for the third Test on Boxing Day and scored just four runs from 13 balls in two nervy innings before losing his wicket with a pair of poor shots.
The first day in Sydney on Tuesday was little better as he produced a howler of the highest order to drop Chris Rogers on 19, the Australian opener going on to score 95.
“I’d say I’m more relieved than proud of myself,” he told reporters on Thursday.
“It was a nightmare debut and it didn’t make my life easier coming here and I dropped a sitter.
“I just kept telling myself the only way from here is up… I’m happy with the way I played and hopefully I continue the same way and keep getting runs for my country.”
On Tuesday, the comparisons with Dravid, the fourth highest run scorer in test history and an accomplished slip fielder, would have extended only as far as the pair both being from the state of Karnataka.
That might change after Rahul’s 110 on Thursday.