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Fourth Test Hangs In The Balance

Virat Kohli and KL Rahul embrace
KL Rahul and Virat Kohli embrace during their 141-run stand in Sydney
©REUTERS / Action Images

The fourth Test hangs in thrilling balance as India counter-attacked their way to 342 for five at stumps on day three in Sydney.

Australia had declared their innings closed at 572 for seven and with just two days remaining, both teams will be pushing for a result - leading to some intense cricket.

Steve Smith put down two catches and gave lives to centurions KL Rahul and Virat Kohli, and they went on to score 110 and 140 not out respectively. While it was a fourth hundred in this series for Kohli, it was Rahul’s maiden ton coming on the heels of a poor debut in Melbourne.

"It feels good. It was not the debut that I had expected in Melbourne. I came out thinking this is my first game and I am very pleased with the way I batted today," said Rahul.

"Batting up in the order gave me little more time. And it was a conscious effort to spend some time in the middle and get those early nerves off.

"The wicket was pretty slow and the Australian bowlers made it harder by giving nothing away. I just kept telling myself to bat through the first session so that I can come out in second session and score more runs," he added.

Rahul had batted at number six and three respectively in the two innings in the third Test and had come a cropper, falling to top edges on both occasions. This first-innings hundred, after dropping a simple catch on day one, came as a confidence booster.

"I am more relieved than being proud of myself. It was a nightmare debut and it didn’t make my life easier coming to this second Test. I dropped a sitter.

"I kept telling myself the only way from here is up and I had to calm myself down. Definitely batting up the order gave me a little more time to myself," he said.

"I just kept playing one ball at a time – that was my focus. It was important for me as an opener to play one ball at a time and enjoy the challenge.

"After I played last evening it was challenging to get through the last 25 overs and once I did that I felt like it was just a matter of focusing and keep my calm and play as long as I can," he added.

Rahul was dropped by Smith on 46 and prior to that there was a huge mix-up with Kohli. The two then went on to add 141 runs for the third wicket. Eventually the youngster got out to a top-edged pull shot, his third such in three innings.

"I wasn’t worried about what happened. I could have easily played a wrong shot after the dropped catch. I could have gotten out.

"I am very happy that I could bat through and stuck it out. Pleased with the way I batted and all these things didn’t come to my mind," he said.

"You have to be lot more disciplined with your shot selection. The pull shot got me into trouble and that’s something I have to go back and work it out.

"I do enjoy playing the pull shot in India but it is a little different here: bowlers are quicker, pitches have more bounce. Like I said I have to discipline my shot selection lot more," he added.

Kohli was dropped on 59 and scored his third hundred in his third innings as skipper. It compares with Smith’s feat of four hundreds in four matches this series.

"They're pretty good aren't they? Virat's played really well today and so did young Rahul," Australia head coach Darren Lehmann said.

"Steve Smith's been excellent, it's been a hundred fest this Test series. The way they've played, the way they have led their sides - it's exciting times ahead for both countries."

Smith’s first drop was owing to a distraction caused by the Spider-Cam but the coach brushed it off.

"I think the Spider-Cam is good for the game. It's not ideal where it was positioned for that particular ball.

"But I actually like watching it and we've just got to get the positioning right when the bowler's bowling.

"It is great for the people at home and for entertainment throughout the day but we've just got to make sure it's positioned right more than anything else. On that particular occasion it was probably in the wrong spot," he opined.

There was a little turn and uneven bounce when Nathan Lyon came on to bowl, but not enough just yet to trouble the Indian batsmen. The Australian coach though expects it to change as the match progresses.

"I reckon it'll turn more and Lyon and Steve Smith will be bowling a lot more. It's going to be really interesting day after tomorrow.

"We would have loved a couple more wickets today but give them credit that they played really well. We've got to work hard tomorrow," Lehmann signed off.

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