Dynamic Dhoni takes Australia apart
Mahendra Singh Dhoni put India in control of the first Test with Australia by thundering his way to a sensational unbeaten 206 on day three in Chennai.
An expectant crowd at the MA Chidambaram Stadium had hoped to see Sachin Tendulkar, 71 not out overnight, bring up his first Test hundred since January 2011 today.
Yet their initial disappointment at seeing Tendulkar add just 10 to his tally was soon replaced by a combination of delight and amazement as Dhoni put Australia’s attack to the sword in truly remarkable fashion.
Exhibiting his strong bottom hand to fearsome effect, he struck 22 fours and five sixes in a virtually chanceless 243-ball innings that lifted India to 515 for eight and a lead of 135.
Virat Kohli also impressed, taking his score on to 107, but his performance was completely overshadowed by the home captain, who appeared unstoppable during an unbroken ninth-wicket partnership of 109 to which debutant Bhuvneshwar Kumar contributed 16.
Having grown in stature as his innings progressed, Dhoni was able to exert a dominance rarely seen at the highest level as he approached his maiden Test double-century.
He will begin day four with another landmark in his sights; England team director Andy Flower currently holds the record for the highest score by a Test wicketkeeper, his 232 for Zimbabwe coming against India in Nagpur more than 12 years ago.
Nathan Lyon, Australia’s solitary frontline spinner, bore the brunt of Dhoni’s assault, yet he had started the day on a high by bowling Tendulkar via inside-edge.
That followed fine opening spells from James Pattinson and Peter Siddle, but Kohli and Dhoni offered resistance before seizing the initiative against the second new ball in a boundary-laden passage of play after lunch.
Kohli was caught at mid-on off Lyon and Ravindra Jadeja injudiciously shouldered arms to be bowled by Pattinson as Australia looked to hit back.
Dhoni would not be removed, however, and moved into overdrive after losing Ravichandran Ashwin and Harbhajan Singh early in the evening session.
With Bhuvneshwar content to play a supporting hand, India’s leader picked up boundaries seemingly at will and manipulated the strike with ease.
Australia, for whom Lyon finished with 3-182 from 40 overs, appeared increasingly bedraggled as stumps neared and the relentless Dhoni reached 200 in the fourth-last over of the day.