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Virat Kohli upstaged his more experienced team mates as he scored his maiden Test century, but the big-hearted Peter Siddle continued his impressive form in the series as India was bundled out for 272 just after tea on the third day at the Adelaide Oval today. But, India hit back with three wickets as Australia ended the day at 50 for 3, to give the hosts an overall lead of 382 runs.
First innings double centurions Ricky Ponting and skipper Michael Clarke will look to extend Australia's lead quickly on the fourth day to give their bowlers enough time to bowl India out for the second time. The Adelaide Oval track still has something in it for the batsmen, but it has now started assisting spinners and is also showing some signs of deterioration, and India will have to bat out of their skins to save the match.
R Ashwin, who opened the bowling in Australia's second innings with Zaheer Khan, dismissed both the opening batsmen and in between India's pace spearhead trapped Shaun Marsh plumb in front to end a wretched series for the southpaw. David Warner hit four boundaries in his 39-ball 28 before he Ashwin took a good catch of his own bowling to send back the swashbuckling batsman, and then dismissed Ed Cowan in his next over as the batsman shuffled across the stumps and completely missed the delivery and was adjudged out LBW as the ball would have crashed into the leg stump. Ashwin has been extracting a fair amount of spin and bounce from the wicket, and will again play an important role tomorrow.
Disastrous first session
Resuming on the overnight score of 61 for 2, India lost three wickets in the morning session with Siddle and Nathan Lyon dismissing Sachin Tendulkar, Gautam Gambhir and VVS Laxman between themselves.
Tendulkar has been stuck on 99 international hundreds since the 2011 World Cup, and the eternal wait for his landmark ton will continue as he was dismissed by Siddle inside the first hour. Tendulkar (25) had hit a couple of well-timed boundaries at the start of the day's play, but was undone by a fuller length delivery from Siddle that he attempted to push towards cover, but only succeeded in edging a very low catch to Ricky Ponting at second slip, who took it inches from the ground. Tendulkar was asked to wait while the
television umpire confirmed it was a clean catch. In the end, he had to go as Siddle gave Australia their first breakthrough on the third day thanks to an excellent catch by Ponting.
Siddle struck again in his next over when Gambhir failed to keep down a brute of a bouncer. Gambhir hopped high in the air attempting to keep the shot down, but ended up fending it away in front of gully, from where Michael Hussey raced forward and dived full length to take a spectacular catch. It was just reward for Siddle for an incredible delivery on the flat Adelaide wicket.
The 24-year-old Lyon was impressive on the ground where he was a curator until last year as he extracted a fair amount of turn and kept a tight line around the off stump. He took his only wicket of the innings when VVS Laxman edged an attempted dab and was well caught by wicket-keeper Brad Haddin. The under-pressure Laxman managed to score only 18 runs off 43 deliveries, and the debate surrounding his place in the side is bound to be re-ignited. India went into Lunch at 122 for 5 with Kohli and Wriddhiman Saha in the middle.
India's best phase
Kohli and Saha showed their seniors what it takes to succeed on the flat Adelaide wicket as the young pair showed grit and determination after coming together when India was tottering at 111 for 5. Kohli and Saha kept the scoreboard ticking over as they rotated the strike well and also found the boundaries at regular intervals.
Things could have been different for India had the experienced campaigners showed the same application. Kohli and Saha added 114 runs for the sixth wicket before the latter shouldered arms to a Ryan Harris delivery just before tea and was clean bowled.
Clarke's men have rarely been tested or extended in the series so far, but the Australia skipper was forced to use himself and Michael Hussey for a few overs in the post-lunch session as Kohli and Saha established themselves at the wicket. There haven't been too many memorable moments for India in the series, but this would tick a small box in that department.
The pair were unable to save India from the follow-on, but they showed the heart and will to fight even when faced with an uphill task. That's something this Indian team have been sorely lacking in for most of the series, and is one of the few silver linings in the team's disastrous tour Down Under. Saha played well for his 94-ball 35 and this knock would have given him a lot of confidence.
Status quo restored
Siddle dismissed Ashwin and Zaheer off consecutive deliveries in the third over of the post-tea session. Ashwin was trapped plumb in front, while Zaheer had a brain fade and got a thick edge to a delivery that Siddle bowled outside the off stump and the catch was easily taken by Haddin. It was Siddle's fifth wicket of the innings and the tireless performer got his deserved reward for consistency and persistence.
Kohli got to a well-deserved century, his first in Tests, as he pushed a delivery from Siddle through the covers and ran a couple of runs to get to the landmark. Kohli has had critics questioning his place in India's Test team, but the talented youngster showed he had what it takes to succeed in the longest version of the game in the third Test in Perth.
Kohli scored his runs all over the ground and though he had some nervy moments when on 99, he celebrated like there was no tomorrow after getting to the landmark.
Incidentally, this was the first century by an Indian batsman in the series.
Kohli made 116 off 213 balls with 11 hits to the fence and one over it before he was the last man to be dismissed as India was all out for 272 in their first innings in reply to Australia's 604 for 7 declared. Clarke, however, chose not to enforce the follow-on.