The celebrations were subdued. Virat Kohli took off his helmet, raised the bat and kissed his wedding ring that was dangling from a chain around his neck after he flicked a Nathan Lyon delivery through forward square for a single and reached his 28th Test century (186, 364b, 15x4) - the first since November 23, 2019.
As the crowd chanted his name at the Narendra Modi Stadium throughout on Sunday, Kohli flexed his muscles to guide India to 571 for nine in the first innings.
Though he would be disappointed to have missed out on a double-century by just 14 runs after holing out to Marnus Labuschagne at deep mid-wicket off Todd Murphy, Kohli dominated the fourth day, putting India in firm control of the game.
It took the erstwhile India captain 1,205 days to reach a ton since scoring his last against Bangladesh in the pink-ball Test in Kolkata.
Coming into the series-deciding fourth Test of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy with scores of 12, 44, 20, 22 and 13, Kohli, who felt slightly feverish after the third day, put his head down, batted for 516 minutes and went on to break the century-jinx in 241 balls.
He forged a 162-run stand in just 216 balls with Axar Patel (79, 113b, 5x4, 4x6) for the seventh wicket to make sure the home side took the much-needed lead. Axar scored 84 and 74, respectively, in the first two Tests, and coming in at a time when Kohli needed a partnership, he complemented the batting ace with five fours and four sixes.
Kohli held fort, while Axar accelerated the strike, in an indication that the lead could extend up to 150 or 160. However, he dragged a Mitchell Starc delivery onto his stumps and soon after his dismissal, India lost R. Ashwin and Umesh Yadav in quick succession.
Resuming the day at 289 for three, India scored 73 runs for the loss of a wicket in the first session as Ravindra Jadeja chipped to Usman Khawaja at mid-on off Murphy after adding 64 with Kohli.
Coming in for Shreyas Iyer, who complained of a lower-back pain and did not bat, K.S. Bharat took time to settle in, but as the day progressed, he rotated the strike with Kohli and also hit Cameron Green for successive sixes and cut him for four to bring up 21 runs in an over. That paved the way for the 84-run stand before he fell short of a maiden Test fifty, caught at short-leg off Lyon. But with Kohli and Axar around, India did not lose the plot.
Australia had six overs before the end of day’s play and ended at three for no loss, trailing by 88 runs. Regular opener Khawaja jarred his knee while fielding, leading to Travis Head being joined by night-watchman Matthew Kuhnemann. The latter was dropped by Bharat off Ashwin.
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