NEW DELHI, Dec. 10: Run machine. Genius. Legend. Unreal. The new Little Master. Cricket world was sent into a collective adjective-hunt by Indian Cricketor Virat Kohli as he compiled a masterclass of an innings to put his team in firm control of the fourth Test on Day 3 in Mumbai. At the close of play, powered by centuries from Kohli (147*) and Murali Vijay(136), India were 451/7 leading by 51 runs.
During an engrossing day's play, England twice found themselves in a position of strength but quickly loosened their grasp over the proceedings for which they were partially to be blamed. After Vijay roared back with an eighth Test century, Kohli landed the knockout blow with his 15th ton in the format during which he broke several records. An almost blemish-free knock could have ended had Adil Rashidmanaged to hold on to a difficult return catch with Kohli batting on 68. Instead, Alastair Cook had to watch both his spinners toiling hard, bowling with tired arms and legs as Kohli entertained a vociferous weekend Wankhede crowd with 17 fours in 241 deliveries.
He paced his innings accordingly and when India lost four wickets in a head, he held himself back and went 83 deliveries without scoring a boundary en route his half-century. His first 50 came off 111 deliveries but took just 76 more for his next. The celebrations weren't restrained as has been the case of late whenever he reaches three figures for he knew the magnitude of his knock. Not to forget is the contribution from Jayant Yadav who held his end firmly, unbeaten on 30 while adding 87 runs for the eighth wicket with his captain.
Before India took control, an inspired bowling change worked like magic for Cook as part-timer Joe Root picked up two wickets in four deliveries to hurt India midway through the second session. However, Ravindra Jadeja quickly calmed the tensed situation with a four and a six. During that phase, England spinners delivered crucial blows leaving India wobbling at 307/6 at one stage.
Vijay fell to a juicy full toss, offering a return catch to Rashid and Moeen Ali then dismissed Karun Nair with the help of DRS, a close call for lbw ending his knock at 13. Root then added to the fun with the scalps of Parthiv (15) and Ashwin (0), brilliantly caught at short leg, with India still 93 adrift of 400 runs.
The four blows should have pushed India on the backfoot but instead, England were in for a surprise with Kohli and Jadeja counterattacking, adding 41 runs at the rate of 4.64 an over by the time tea was taken. After Rashid fluffed a difficult return catch of Kohli, he was punished with a pull to midwicket fence next ball. Jadeja launched Root over midwicket and Cook took him off after one over, returning to his regulars.
After Pujara was out second ball of the day Vijay strode along and together with Kohli, added 116 runs for the third wicket.
Jake Ball had given England the perfect start, bringing one in to which Cheteshwar Pujara shouldered arms and consequently was bowled for 47 - without adding anything to his overnight total - off the second ball of the day. Enter Kohli, and India snatched the advantage back.
Kohli straightway began playing his shots, getting off the mark with a steer through backward point for four off Ball and after another boundary in the same region off the same bowler, a slip put in place. That didn't deter the India captain from opening the face of his bat and collecting his third four in eight deliveries.
Encouraged with the positive intent of his partner, Vijay lofted Moeen over long-on for his third six followed by a controlled sweep through square leg region later on. A four to Kohli made it 11 runs from the over but Cook persisted with Moeen who bowled a wicketless 10-over spell. The changes were made at the other end wherein Ben Stokes and Anderson swapped places but without causing any damage. Kohli first struck a four to go past 1000 runs in Test cricket this year and then off Anderson, completed 4000 career runs.
Before Kohli, it was Vijay who struck his second century of the series. Though he remained largely content with rotating the strike, he wasn't averse to take the occasional aerial route. With the Indian pair comfortably steering India forward, Cook turned to Rashid but he wasn't as menacing as he was during the third session on Friday. Vijay though played few loose shots post his hundred and then successfully reversed an lbw decision after inside edging one from Rashid onto his pads. Vijay's dismissal gave England an opening and enjoyed some success before Jadeja scored 25 runs and then left the stage for Kohli to dazzle. The day belonged to India and especially Kohli even though England managed to steal some moments but fell behind after failing to build on them.
Brief scores: India 451/7 (Kohli 147*, Vijay 136, Root 2/18) lead England 400 by 51 runs. (TOI)
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