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04 October 2023

Rahul, Kohli hit tons, but Spidercam gets into act

By Reuters

Skipper Virat Kohli and Lokesh Rahul carved out centuries to share the stage with 'spidercam' as India clawed back on the third day of the final Test against Australia on Thursday.

Kohli joined Australian counterpart Steve Smith with four tons in the series, while Rahul rode his luck including some help from spidercam, to raise his maiden ton in only his second Test.

Chasing Australia's 572 for seven declared, the tourists were 342 for five at the close with Kohli posting his 10th Test hundred to be unbeaten on 140 with Wriddhiman Saha not out 14.

In the process Kohli surpassed Rahul Dravid (619) as the highest-scoring Indian batsmen in a series in Australia with 639 runs at an average of 106.50.

The home attack kept the lid on the Indian scoring on a flat, lifeless Sydney Cricket Ground pitch with all the runs hard-earned but helped along by some ragged Australian fielding.

Smith put down two chances, one when Kohli was on 59 and the other off Rahul, which was tinged with controversy over the positioning of the spidercam television camera hovering above the ground.

Rahul gave chances on 41, 42 and 46 but the final opportunity was the day's major talking point with Smith appearing to blame spidercam for putting down the skied catch.

Smith was seen to mouth "fucking wire" to team-mates, suggesting he might have been distracted by the cables suspending spidercam in losing the trajectory of the ball.

Cricket Australia and the Nine Network later confirmed in a joint statement that Smith had been "distracted by one of the wires in his eyeline".

It got no better for Smith nearing tea when he bungled a two-handed chance over his head from Kohli, who was on 59, at second slip off Mitchell Starc.

"It was good. It was only the captain today, wasn't it?" coach Darren Lehmann quipped about his team's ongoing catching malaise.

"Disappointing. A couple of tough chances, but you still have to take those on a wicket that will deteriorate on days four and five.

"We needed to speed up the game today, so a little bit disappointing. We needed to take those chances and that's now two Test matches in a row. But there's still a lot of time in this game."

Rahul also had a lucky escape on 42 when he charged down the pitch for a run and was sent back by Kohli only to tumble to the ground and lose his bat.

Yet he still managed to scramble to safety and beat Brad Haddin's delayed throw to the non-striker's end.

Exasperated skipper Smith stood glaring at Haddin with his arms outstretched at the farcical blunder as India had a big let-off.

Rahul survived another scare earlier in the morning session when the Australians appealed for a catch by Joe Burns at bat-pad off spinner Nathan Lyon but umpire Richard Kettleborough was unmoved.

Infrared television replays showed the ball may have brushed a glove and off the thigh guard to Burns.

But Rahul was finally out in the 87th over when he skied an attempted pull shot and was caught by Starc off his own bowling for 110 off 262 balls with 13 fours and one six.

Rahul put on 141 runs for the third wicket with Kohli.

"I'd say I'm more relieved than proud of myself," Rahul said of his ton.

"It was a nightmare debut (in third Test in Melbourne) and it didn't make my life easier coming here.

"I just kept telling myself the only way from here is up. I feel batting up the order gave me, I feel, a little more time for myself."

There was late excitement for the home crowd when Shane Watson was on a hat-trick after trapping Ajinkya Rahane leg before wicket for 13 and then Suresh Raina was out next ball to a diving Haddin catch. Saha saw out the hat-trick attempt.

Rohit Sharma was out in the morning session attempting to sweep Lyon only to get a bottom edge on to his stumps for 53 off 133 balls, ending a stubborn 97-run partnership with Rahul.


Australia were left ruing television interference as India's Lokesh Rahul scored his maiden Test century to help the tourists to 234 for two at tea on the third day of the fourth Test against Australia on Thursday.

Replying to Australia's 572-7 declared, Rahul was on 106 not out at the break with his captain Virat Kohli, who was unbeaten on 67, alongside him in a partnership of 137 that survived the entire second session.

Australia, 2-0 up in the four-match series, will feel that Rahul should also have been dismissed for 46 just before lunch but Steve Smith dropped the ball after the opener had ballooned it into the air with a top edge.

The Australia captain made it clear he believed the wire that holds the overhead TV camera - Spidercam - in place had prevented him from taking the catch.

"It's clear the ball did not hit the camera or its supporting wires," Broadcaster Channel Nine and Cricket Australia later said in a joint statement.

"Captain Steve Smith was distracted by one of the wires in his eye line. Both CA and Nine will continue to work together on the use of Spidercam in the broadcast coverage and will take on board any player feedback as necessary."

There was no interference, however, when Smith, at second slip, dropped a relatively simple chance to remove Kohli off the bowling of Mitchell Starc just before tea.

Rahul made the most of his reprieve even if none of the Indian batsmen really cut lose as they approached their assault on the Australian tally with some caution.

The 22-year-old, who endured a torrid Test debut with just four runs in two innings in the draw in Melbourne last week, reached the milestone with his 11th four just before tea having faced 253 balls.

Rahul had survived another scare when he was nearly run out soon after Rohit Sharma had departed for 53, the only wicket to fall in the first two sessions.

Sent back by Kohli after calling for a single, Rahul fell over halfway down the wicket and, leaving his bat behind, had to launch himself head first towards the safety of the crease.

Smith stood with his hands on his hips showing his disappointment at Australia's failure to snap up the chance on a Sydney Cricket Ground track that still looked excellent for batting.