Virat Kohli seals Test spot with fighting 50 in tense draw
Royal Challengers Bangalore batsman Virat Kohli sealed his Test slot for the tour of Australia as India’s no.6 with his two fifties in the thrilling drawn third Test against the West Indies at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai.
Having posted a 52 in India’s first innings in the course of which he took the team past the follow on mark, Kohli returned to bat a second time in two days on Day 5, this time to take the team past the total of 243 they were set by West Indies.
The match looked like it was heading towards a draw at Stumps on Day 4; WI had 8 wickets remaining in their second innings and were 189 runs ahead. They lost them all for 43 runs within the first session of Day 5, collapsing to 134 all out and setting India a target of 243 in just over 2 sessions.
Following Gambhir's early dismissal, an 82 run partnership between Dravid and Sehwag had set India on course before WI struck back to remove the duo and Sachin Tendulkar as well for the addition of just 12 runs, leaving India reeling at 113/4.
Kohli added 52 runs with VVS Laxman, 24 with MS Dhoni and 35 runs with Ashwin in tense passages of play as he slowly took India towards victory and a 3-0 series clean sweep. Facing an ODI-like run chase situation, Kohli was assured in his shot selection, not pushing too hard and happily collecting singles. He loosened up only towards the end when India urgently needed a few big overs to decisively seize the game, reaching his second Test fifty off 95 balls. West Indies kept pushing however and always manage to break the partnerships before they could take the game away from them.
Virat was on 63 with just 19 runs required for a win when the first ball after a drinks break proved to be his undoing. Devendra Bishoo spun one sharply from outside leg, across the batsman, extracting good bounce in the process. Trying a late cut, Kohli top edged the ball to offer Darren Sammy an easy catch at first slip. India were 224/7 with 19 runs required from 5 remaining overs with first innings.
R Ashwin batted with the tailenders as the teams continued to trade blowes, taking India to 241/8 with 2 runs required for victory from the one delivery remaining. Ashwin could only manage a single, his indecision about taking the second one left him stranded halfway through the pitch as India finished at 242/9. The match was drawn with the scores level, India one run and WI one wicket away from victory.
Kohli’s knock, the top score of the tricky second innings chase had set India on course for victory but he will now know the importance of staying in till the job is done and assessing the risk some shots carry. He has done well enough to keep heavyweights like Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina and Yuvraj Singh out of the playing XI, atleast till the tour of Australia begins.