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Virat Kohli, KL Rahul hit centuries; India reach 342/5 on Day 3 against Oz

Captain Virat Kohli smashed his fourth century of the series while young Lokesh Rahul also hit a gritty maiden ton as India fought back with a gallant batting display to keep themselves afloat in the fourth and final cricket Test against Australia.

Resuming the day at 71 for 1, India added 271 runs from 90 overs to end the third day on 342 for 5 in reply to Australia’s mammoth 572 for 7 declared, thanks to the twin centuries by Kohli (140 not out) and Rahul (110).

Kohli notched up his tenth Test ton in his 33rd match and also broke a few records during the course of his unbeaten knock.

The Kohli-Rahul duo shared 141 runs for the third wicket to lead the Indian fightback on an SCG pitch which offered some turn for the spinners.

At stumps, Kohli and Wriddhiman Saha (14 not out) at the crease, the duo having added 50 runs for the sixth wicket.

For Australia, Mitchell Starc (2/77), Shane Watson (2/42) and Nathan Lyon (1/91) were the wicket-takers. Ryan Harris (0/63), Josh Hazlewood (0/45) and Steve Smith (0/17) were the other bowlers used.

The visitors were, however, jolted by two dismissals in two deliveries in last hour of play. Ajinkya Rahane (13), who hit a century in the third Test in Melbourne, and Suresh Raina (0) were dismissed by Shane Watson in two consecutive deliveries in the 100th over of the Indian innings.

India still trail by 230 runs with five first innings wickets in hand and they will have to continue their strong batting show to avoid a 0-3 series defeat. With his 214-ball unbeaten knock, spiced with 20 boundaries, Kohli became the only cricketer ever to have scored a century each in his first three innings as captain of a side. Australian Greg Chappell had scored a century each in his first two innings as captain against the West Indies at Brisbane in 1975.

The 26-year-old Kohli also became the highest Indian run getter in a Test series in Australia, surpassing batting legend Rahul Dravid who scored 619 runs from eight innings in the 2003-04 tour.

Kohli, who came into this match with an aggregate of 499 runs, has now totalled 639 from seven innings in this series. The only blemish of the Indian captain in his innings today was the dropped catch by Steven Smith at second slips in the post-lunch session when Kohli was on 59.

The 22-year-old Rahul, in only his second Test, played a solid innings though he survived two close calls, including a dropped catch by Smith of the bowling of off-spinner Nathan Lyon in the morning session when he was on 46.

India were going strong with Rahul and Kohli having settled well and looking to further their partnership and ease India into the match in the final session. But the former was out quickly, top-edging Starc as the bowler gleefully accepted the return catch.

Rahul got a reprieve when on 46 as he top-edged Shane Watson (0/10) in the 53rd over, only for Steve Smith to run back from first slip but drop the skier as he was distracted by the cables of the overhead spidercam hung atop the SCG.

After Rahul’s dismissal, Ajinkya Rahane (13) came to the crease and quickly added 50 runs for the fourth wicket with Kohli, thanks mainly to the Indian captain who just pushed on.

In the 97th over of the innings then, Kohli brought up his 10th Test hundred off 162 balls. In doing so, he became the first Indian batsman after Sunil Gavaskar (in 1971 and 1978-79 versus West Indies) to score four centuries in a Test series.

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