Ever since India captain and superstar Virat Kohli got injured and went off the field after a fielding effort in the current Ranchi India-Australia Test, all the focus has been on him. Will he play, won’t he play? Will he be rested? All the speculation ended when Kohli was seen padded up in the dressing room at the beginning of the third day’s play.
And he was immediately in the limelight when the Australian team failed with their second DRS attempt. Kohli came out of the dressing room and started clapping as if someone had just hit a century.
But we really can’t blame Kohli. At that time only one Indian wicket had fallen. To have zero DRS reviews when 9 opposition wickets are left and a good 149 runs are on the board is to be in a position of real weakness. Kohli realized this and maybe that’s why he couldn’t resist.
When Kohli came in to bat, his rotten luck with the bat continued. He fell for a single digit score on the very first ball he played after the new ball had been taken after the 80th over. Now his batting scores for the series read: 0, 13, 12, 15, 6. The sad part was that in the ball before, Glenn Maxwell made a fine fielding effort at the boundary saving a boundary and breaking his fall with his elbows.
Maxwell spoilt it all by pretending to have hurt his shoulder in a clear bid at making fun of Kohli. This was a new low because while many things happen at the heat of the moment in the run of play, you don’t make fun of someone’s injury like this when the ball is dead.
To make matters worse, captain Steve Smith also appeared to touch his shoulder after Kohli got out. Twitter was not amused and the hashtag #AussieKiTaisie started trending. Though this proved to be an optical illusion in the end.
During the tea break, legends like Kapil Dev expressed their displeasure on television and wondered why the Aussies always had to behave like this. In the dressing room after getting out Kohli was seen holding his shoulder from time to time showing that he had indeed battled pain to come on the field and should be applauded instead of being mocked.
Team India top-order finally fired: The story was different for the top order at least. At the beginning of the day’s play, Sanjay Manjrekar happily declared in the commentary box that the sun was out once again and it was definitely out there for India’s top order which made hay while the sun shone.
That’s why we comfortably crossed our top series team score of 274 well before tea. After ages both our openers, Murali Vijay and KL Rahul, registered fighting fifties while one down Cheteshwar Pujara hit a century.
India played classic cricket, taking singles, roughing it out during good bowling spells (Pat Cummins got quite a few maidens) and hitting the bad balls. In fact when Vijay hit a six out of the blue early in the day, commented Manjrekar: Murali Vijay does this time and again and surprises you.
Sunil Gavaskar commented on Pujara at the beginning of the first session that he looked calm and collected and didn’t get flustered easily, easing the nerves of his team. Gavaskar was proved right as Pujara went on to score a fine fighting century and managed to play more than 300 balls.
India ended the day at 360/6 still 91 runs behind Australia’s 451.
Now Pujara will have to continue his gritty fight on the fourth day along with a good performance by lower order for India to take a lead in the Ranchi Test.
The author is a Bangalore-based journalist and blogger. He blogs here