Kohli finally ends wait for Test century 28, India lead Australia by 88

By Sports Desk March 12, 2023

Virat Kohli ended his long wait for a Test century in style as India moved into an 88-run lead over Australia in the fourth and final Test.

India have already retained the Border-Gavaskar Trophy after winning the first two Tests, but following defeat in the third, need a win to be sure of a place in June's ICC Test Championship final against Australia at Lord's.

A draw or a defeat would leave the door open for Sri Lanka to take their place with a 2-0 series win over New Zealand. Sri Lanka need nine wickets to win the first Test on Monday's final day.

Defeat for India is very unlikely after Kohli scored his first hundred in the longest format since November 2019, his stunning 186 and Axar Patel's 79 lifting the hosts to 571 all out, with Australia reaching the close 3-0 to start their second innings.

With one day's play remaining, a draw will be the expected outcome, but the match will now be remembered for Kohli masterfully ending his drought. 

He resumed on 59 with India on 289-3 and was scarcely troubled as Australia laboured on a slow pitch, allowing Kohli to bring up Test century 28 with a clipped single through square, bringing only a reserved celebration from the former captain but a rapturous reception from the raucous Ahmedabad crowd.

Commentator and former India coach Ravi Shastri proclaimed "a 600-kilo gorilla is off his back" and Kohli certainly played with freedom thereafter, reaching 150 with successive boundaries as he smacked a glorious cover drive and then threaded another four through midwicket.

His support was not as obdurate as Kohli but provided ample help in moving the scoreboard, Srikar Bahrat hitting two fours and three sixes in his 44 and Axar letting loose with five fours and four maximums.

Kohli eventually holed out at deep midwicket to bring the India innings to a close. His drought over, India will hope they have done enough to give him the opportunity to produce a similar display in London with the championship on the line.

Kohli ends 1,205-day drought

Not since scoring 136 against Bangladesh at Eden Gardens nearly three and a half years ago had Kohli reached three figures.

That is a remarkable amount of time for a player of Kohli's quality, which shone through as he scored his 75th international century, reaching that figure in 552 innings. Fellow India great Sachin Tendulkar took 566 to achieve the same feat.

Gavaskar mark equalled

Kohli's hundred was his eighth against Australia in Test cricket, moving him level with Sunil Gavaskar for the second most by an India batter. Tendulkar (11) still holds the record for centuries versus Australia in red-ball cricket for India.

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    Over the last couple years, however, Hope has rubbished those sentiments thanks to some destructive batting performances in the CPL as well as in leagues around the world.

    His evolution as a T20 batsman was none more evident than during the West Indies’ game against the USA at the ICC T20 World Cup on Friday in his home country of Barbados.

    Looking to bounce back from a loss to England in their first game of the Super 8 on Wednesday, the joint hosts dismissed their American counterparts for 128 after losing the toss at the Kensington Oval.

    The West Indians then needed only 10.5 overs to reach 130-1, with Hope finishing 82* off just 39 balls. In a brilliant display of power hitting, Hope hit eight sixes and four fours on the way to his highest score in T20 Internationals.

    “Clinical,” was how Hope described the team’s performance on Friday in a post-match press conference.

    “Especially coming off the loss that we had a couple days ago. It's great to see the guys understood the assignment today and we played the cricket that we wanted to play. It's important for us to continue in this vein because we see what's at stake now. But yeah, very happy with the bounce back that we did today and there's a lot more cricket to play and we're looking forward to it,” he added.

    On his own individual performance, Hope was happy to perform in front of his home crowd.

    “Yeah, it was an amazing crowd. It's nice to see everyone came out and support us today. Something that we get in the Caribbean when we're doing well, we tend to see a lot more supporters out there. So that means we must be doing something right if you've got a solo crowd. But yeah, the crowd was rocking today,” he said.

    “I thought that the support was amazing. Again, I'm from Barbados so playing in front of this lovely crowd meant a lot more to me. Scoring some runs and winning the game for the team felt even more special so I'm very happy to do that,” Hope added.

    At the start of the tournament, Hope was on the outside of the XI looking in. He missed the first three games before coming into the side ahead of Roston Chase in the third game against Afghanistan where he 25 batting at number four.

    The 30-year-old was then left out once again for the Super 8 opener against England. A side strain suffered by Brandon King during that game meant Hope was given an opportunity at the top of the order against the USA, an opportunity that he grabbed with both hands.

    “Yeah, it's a great feeling. Again, whatever the team requires, that's me. Unfortunately, King had to leave us. Hopefully, he recovers quickly. But yeah, I had to go at the top this time around and the aim was just to get off to a good start. You see the importance of finishing the game early as well. So yeah, I had a good time in the middle, good surface and I enjoyed batting tonight,” he said.

    “Just have to stay ready in a tournament like this. There's a reason why we have 15 players. All of them need to be ready whenever the time comes,” he added.

    Finally, Hope issued a plea to the fans of the West Indies to continue supporting them on their journey to a third ICC T20 World Cup title.

    “Keep rallying. That's our motto. We always talk about rallying around the West Indies. That's exactly what we need to keep doing. The team rallying around each other. The fans need to do the same. We're out there fighting for each and every one of us. So, you understand the importance and the magnitude of the tournament. We're playing a home World Cup, something that I'm sure a lot of cricketers over their careers may not get the opportunity to do. We understand the importance of this in particular and we know how much the fans really want us to win so we're fighting, we're doing it for them and it's great to see the support I hope that it continues for the rest of the tournament,” he said.

    The West Indies will take on South Africa in their last Super 8 match on Sunday in Antigua.

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    West Indies hammered their fellow T20 World Cup hosts the United States by nine wickets to put themselves in the driving seat for a semi-final spot.

    Having lost their opening Super 8s match to England, the Windies bounced back in style in Barbados on Friday.

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    Hope was recalled to the team after an injury to Brandon King, but will be a tough drop for Rovman Powell now.

    The USA had made a promising start, but slipped from 51-1 to 65-4 in the space of three overs, with Andre Russell the pick of the Windies' bowlers (3-31).

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    "It is our destiny and our goal to win this World Cup," Chase said after the victory. "We want teams to know they have to beat us to win this World Cup."

    Rovman Powell's side equalled the record for the West Indies' most wins in a single calendar year (W9 in 2021) in T20Is, and face South Africa in Antigua next Monday. 

    The triumph continued their impressive T20 record at the Kensington Oval in Bridgetown, and they have now won five of their previous seven T20Is at the venue. 

    The last and only previous time they won more consecutive games in Barbados was a four-game streak from May 2010 to March 2014, which has got the West Indies believing they can claim a third title. 

    "It's very special," captain Powell said. "Kensington brings special memories for us. We had no better opportunity to come out and play some good cricket."

    The USA still holds on to the hopes of qualifying for the competition's semi-finals but knows their hopes of progression lie elsewhere. 

    Having lost their opening Super 8 fixture to South Africa, they will be hoping the Proteas can do them a favour in defeating the West Indies but would need a comprehensive victory of their own against current champions England. 

    "We lost wickets in clusters," captain Aaron Jones said. "I don't think we ever truly recovered from that. It was bad in the middle.

    "We'll go back to the drawing board and come back hard against England on Sunday."

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