Melbourne, Dec 28 (IANS) Ajinkya Rahane (batting 111) and Virat Kohli (batting 104) forged an unbeaten 189-run fourth-wicket partnership to propel India to 336 for three to trim Australia’s lead to 194 runs at tea on day three of the third Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) here Sunday.
It was Rahane’s first century on Australian soil while Kohli cracked his third century of the series after hitting hundreds in both innings of the first Test.
India resumed the day at 108 for one in reply to Australia’s 530 and were in a spot of bother losing both overnight batsman Cheteshwar Pujara (25) and Murali Vijay (68) within the first hour of play.
But after steadying the ship with a 77-run partnership before lunch, they continued to defy the probing Australian bowling, taking the attack to the opposition.
Both led charmed lives, benefiting from two dropped catches each, to pile on the agony for the home team.
And they made full use of it, displaying a wide range of shots and daring Australia eye to eye.
The proceedings got a bit hot-tempered when Johnson hit Kohli with a throw on his follow through while trying to run out the batsman leading to some heated arguments between the two.
Kohli lost his composure after the altercation to edge twice, both off Johnson, but survived to lead India’s march, ably supported by Rahane.
But India’s start to the day’s action could not have been worse.
No.3 batsman Pujara, resuming on his overnight score of 25, was dismissed of the second ball of the day by pacer Ryan Harris, caught brilliantly by a diving Brad Haddin.
Haddin had dropped a much simpler chance offered by Pujara when he was on 12 Saturday but dived full length to his right to grab the edge which was induced by Harris when the batsman tried to cut a ball too close to his body.
Australia intensified their aggressive bowling, mixing bouncers with fuller length deliveries. Johnson hit Vijay on the helmet with a sharp rising delivery and kept probing the batsman with some tight bowling.
Vijay got rattled to edge a Watson delivery to Haddin soon after. That brought Rahane in the middle and launched India’s fightback.