A career-high 206 not out from Mahendra Singh Dhoni put India firmly in control of the first Test against Australia at the close of play on Day Three at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai yesterday.
Dhoni smashed 22 fours and five sixes with his knock taking just 243 balls as India finished 515 for eight, 135 ahead of Australia’s first-innings effort of 380 all out. Virat Kohli made 107 while Sachin Tendulkar could only add 10 to his overnight score of 71 on a day when Australia toiled in the field.
Tendulkar misses ton
Australia made the ideal start when their only frontline spinner, Nathan Lyon, bowled Tendulkar through the gate. His dismissal after a 10-over period of low scoring and disciplined bowling brought in Dhoni, whose arrival prompted an increase in the run rate as he and Kohli took to the visiting bowling attack.
Kohli launched a Lyon delivery into the stands in the 68th over before Dhoni found the ropes twice off the same bowler in the 72nd. Kohli brought up his century and the India 300 in the next over with his 14th boundary.
When on 107, Kohli failed to get the elevation required to beat Starc at mid-on with the bowler taking a simple catch off Lyon to leave India 324 for five.
There was little surprise when Ravindra Jadeja left a Pattinson delivery which clattered into off stump to and end a 44-ball, 16-run innings.
Dhoni resumed the final session on 97 not out and quickly brought up his ton, lofting Peter Siddle for four over square leg. Ravichandran Ashwin went for three before Henriques bowled Harbhajan Singh (11) when the spinner missed an attempted slog across the line.
But with Bhuvneshwar Kumar (16 not out) happy to give the strike to Dhoni, the captain stepped into overdrive. He punished anything full or short, stepping up the aggression and unsettled the Australians, who regularly changed their bowlers to little effect.
Nathan Lyon punished
Lyon came in for particular punishment and Starc and Siddle toiled away without luck, while skipper Clarke and David Warner failed to make inroads.
As the day approached an end, all interest surrounded Dhoni’s audacious bid for 200 runs in one day of Test cricket.
And he achieved the milestone with a nudge to third man off the bowling of Lyon, with the risky single — which came with less than four overs left — bringing the crowd to their feet.
Australia: 380 all out in 133 overs. India: 515 for eight in 141 overs (MS Dhoni 206 not out, Virat Kohli 107, Sachin Tendulkar 81; James Pattinson
4-89, Nathan Lyon 3-182)