Last Match Report – Australia vs India Test 4 2022/23

Australia 3 for 0 and 480 (Khawaja 180, Green 114, Ashwin 6-91) trail India 571 (Kohli 186, Gill 128, Axar 79) by 88 routes

Virat Kohli’s test-age drought has been broken and the floodgates could open for Australia as they face a battle to save the game on the last day after Indian batting’s long line-up amassed 571 for 9 on day four in Ahmedabad.

Kohli made a superb 186 from 364 balls while Axar Patel shot five fours and four sixes in a flaming 79 to give India a first-inning lead of 91 after posting over 50 partnerships for each of the first six innings goals. It could have been more, but Shreyas Iyer was unable to bat or go out on day four due to lower back pain. Left the site early in the morning to do scans.

Australia suffered their own injury on a day where their bowler chess pieces were badly bruised as they failed to enter or even create chances on an unsuitable surface. Usman Khawaja injured his left leg while trying to grab a rope right after a drink in the middle session. He landed clumsily and limped off the pitch shortly after with the team Australia physio. Details of his injury have not been confirmed, but he did not return and bat late in the day, with Matt Kuhnemann opening as an overnight spotter. Khawaja has suffered a torn ACL and a torn meniscus in his left knee in the past after having surgery to repair both tears.

Kuhnemann and Travis Head survived six overs over three innings as Australia remain 88 runs behind with three cricket sessions remaining to either salvage the tie or somehow get a score to tie the series 2-2.

Kohli and it seems that most of India waited for its 28th century ordeal for 1205 painful days. But he was willing to wait as long as necessary to hit triple figures against a disciplined Australian bowler in the first two hours of the day.

He was almost flawless, reaching his 75th international age just after dinner. It was the second slowest test of his testing career, with 241 deliveries, and contained only five limits in his first 100 runs and none in the first morning session.

The discipline and patience he showed were later rewarded handsomely as the burden of the three-year wait faded away and the dominant Kohli of the old days returned. He broke into two fast Australians, Cameron Green and Mitchell Starc, while attempting enemy spells with a throwing ball. He also became increasingly expansive and flamboyant with the two offspinners Nathan Lyon and Todd Murphy, whom he treated with the utmost respect in the first session.

He received great support throughout the day. His 168-year association with Axar was the fruit of his morning work. The pair scored with incredible ease compared to the pre-dinner grind. Australian bowlers in the afternoon sun. Kohli crossed 10 class boundaries in the afternoon with some sublime upswings and some excellent strikes from Lyon in particular, trusting Ahmedabad’s rebound with cross shots that fell to them earlier in the series on less trusted surfaces.

While Kohli moved in lane and thrived mostly on the leg side, Axar gave room for a cut in the off. But he mixed in four brutal strikes, three that landed in the stands and one that bounced off the fence at braid speed. Axar had some luck against Lyon, forcing them to slip as Smith couldn’t capitalize on an incredibly difficult one-handed chance high up to his right. There were a few nervous moments in Lyon’s defence, but otherwise it went smoothly.

The pair looked nailed to the double century and twin milestones with the Kohli 200 and Axar’s maiden test century in sight. But Axar fell by the sword, slashing Mitchell the Old Man to stumps, trying to skin him through the shield.

Kohli ran out of partners as R Ashwin dived deep and Umesh Yadav was eliminated by Peter Handscomb’s brilliant direct punch from deep into the diamond duck who was trying to keep Kohli on the attack.

Kohli was dropped by Handscomb in deep Lyon at 185 which was a tough chance to dive low in a long position. It only took one run as he flailed, hitting the fence next to him.

Prior to that, Kohli also shared half a century of stands with Ravindra Jadeja and KS Bharat in the morning, but India only made 73 runs in the first session. Lyon and Murphy bowled brilliantly to keep the scoring under control, and Kohli really struggled to break free of very disciplined lines and lengths, although he was never threatened defensively. Jadeja finally slammed Murphy to the ground, but soon after meekly got halfway through.

Bharat slog-slog-slog-sloged his second ball to six over a wide long-on, but struggled to 25 out of 70 at lunchtime. However, he hit the accelerator after lunch when Cameron Green tried to pepper him with short balls at the behest of his captain Steven Smith with a heavy field on the leg side. After dodging a full round of short balls, he developed two six-punch and a four-slash in the next round.

Lyon knocked him down shortly after with a spin and rebound. It was one of only three goals he scored in innings in a marathon of 65 overs. That’s the most he’s ever thrown in Test rounds, and he deserved a better reward than he got. Murphy also took three wickets with 45.5. They were by far Australia’s two best bowlers, as indicated by their workload. Smith didn’t put as much faith in the other three, with two quick soaps to all parts, while Kuhnemann wasn’t anywhere near as effective on that surface as he was on Indore.

Alex Malcolm is associate editor at ESPNcricinfo

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