A Field Day For Rahane-Kohli
India turned on their batting might in full glory on day three of the third Test against Australia in Melbourne on Sunday.
In particular Ajinkya Rahane and Virat Kohli came to the party with a 262-run stand for the fourth wicket as the visitors reached 462 for eight at stumps in reply to Australia’s 530 runs in their first innings.
Rahane and Kohli both scored hundreds, bringing up their career-best scores of 147 and 169 runs respectively as they became the first pair to cross the 200-run partnership for the fourth wicket at the MCG.
No Australian pair had done it before them. It gave the hosts a taste of India’s – and in particular Kohli’s intent – of the day.
“I am very proud of the way we played today and we backed ourselves throughout. I am not disappointed at all,” said Kohli on Sunday, after scoring 169 and getting out at stumps.
“Before coming here I told myself I am going to be positive. There is no reason why I should change my game from ODI cricket to Test cricket because sometimes we end up thinking too much and forget about playing our natural game."
"You saw Ajinkya Rahane today and he crossed me to a hundred and that was brilliant. At no point did I tell him to back off and not play his game and that is what is working for us as a batting unit,” he said.
Kohli and Rahane came together at the crease when India were 147 for three in the morning session and then weren’t separated until after tea.
It got heated in the middle with Kohli having a lot of chatter with fast bowler Mitchell Johnson.
“It was going on throughout the day. They were calling me a spoilt brat and I said maybe that’s the way I am. You guys hate me and I like that. I don’t mind having a chat on the field and it worked in my favour I guess."
"I like playing against Australia because it is very hard for them to stay calm and I don’t mind an argument on the field and it really excites me and brings the best out of me. So they don’t seem to be learning the lesson,” said Kohli.
Talking about Johnson in particular, he added, “In Brisbane he was batting without the pressure because that’s not his job. His job is to take wickets and he was going at 4.7 an over today, and he didn’t get a wicket throughout the day and I backed myself to take him on even if I keep talking to him.
"I decided whenever he comes on to bowl I will back myself and take him on. I don’t mind having a word back, neither does he, so we kept going at it.”
There have been a lot of heated moments in this series and Sunday’s incidents were just another chapter in that saga.
“They have the right to talk I guess. They are 2-0 up right now. It would have been interesting if it had been 1-1 and the same sort of sentences or words had come through from them. When you are on top you can sort of say anything you want. It’s when the chips are down that you have got to stand up."
"When we played in India (in 2012-13) there weren’t so many words coming back from them. We are 2-0 down, we still took them on today, and showed what we can do with the bat, which is the character of this Indian team,” said a defiant Kohli.
When asked if he respected the Australian team, he replied, “I have got a nice friendship with a few of them. I respect quite a few of them, but someone who doesn’t respect me, I have no reason to respect him."
"There were words in Adelaide as well where they said no unnecessary respect for him. I said I don’t need it. I am out here to play cricket, not to earn anyone’s respect. As long as I am scoring runs, I am happy with it.”
Australian quick Ryan Harris, who picked up four for 69 on the day, was speechless when he was told about Kohli’s comments.
“We all respect him,” he said later. “He's a pretty good player so I don't know where he gets that from. I respect him and I know all the boys in the change room respect him because he has come out and let his bat do the talking. There's a bit of banter on the field, but if that doesn't stay out there and comes up here, he needs to have a look at that.”
“We try not to say too much to him, but sometimes it brings it on himself I guess when he starts it. It's never personal and it's always a bit of fun. There were a few things out there today that was said. I think the thing that fired him up the most was when Mitch threw the ball at the stumps and he was in the way. It's interesting to hear him say that."
"It's probably a good thing, because he's probably worried about that and we need him to worry about that instead of batting. If he's worried about stuff like that, hopefully his batting goes downhill,” he added.
India are now 68 runs behind with two days to go.
“Getting Kohli towards the end was a big moment. We are 2-0 up and we always try to play to win. I'm not saying we're not going to do that, but we'll see what happens."
"First of all we have to get these wickets in the morning, that's not a given. We'll sit down after that and see where we're at tomorrow night,” Harris signed off.
© Cricket World 2014