The defiant Kohli pressure wounded Australia

In Nagpur he managed to get a glimpse of Todd Murphy inside Alex Carey’s juggling gloves. In Delhi he was judged just lbw to Kuhnemann, then stumbled in pursuit of a small target by Murphy. Indore saw Murphy Kohli fool again, this time lbw, before Kuhnemann slipped one under an overbearing pull shot in the second innings.

This latest dismissal had sparked a degree of frustration in Kohli, who refused to even second-guess the decision, knowing that at least with such fickle attacks, fate seemed to be against him. Prior to each of those layoffs, Kohli had appeared organized, composed, and focused on runs.

Between those innings, Kohli has cut a fascinating figure. During a series far less fiery than the previous India-Australia encounter here in 2017, he has been happy to chat, joke and gesture with the visitors, whether mimicking Cameron Green’s pre-delivery routine or being friendly with Nathan Lyon fooling around.

Axar Patel has excelled again.

Axar Patel has excelled again.Credit:Getty Images

Through the same interactions, he wasn’t shy about offering some blunt private views on the nature of the pitches laid out in the first three Tests. India’s emphasis on league points has undoubtedly made life difficult for its legendary top players.

The Australians stayed busy. Murphy bowled with admirable intelligence to elicit a flawed loft down the middle from Ravindra Jadeja, and Lyon’s persistence eventually resulted in a bat-pad catch from Bharat.

Well, while they bowled, Kohli’s self-denial of boundaries and willingness to steal runs wherever Steve Smith set up deep fielders meant only some yet-unseen variations of the field could realistically dismiss him. A break in Lyon stayed remarkably low but slow enough for Kohli to adapt.

As the day progressed, the Australians showed increasing signs of fatigue towards the end of the series. When Axar Murphy lofted to long-off Khawaja, Khawaja juggled the ball over the limit for six and then left the field for treatment. Green and Smith also missed sharp chances in the final session.

Axar beat Kuhnemann for three sixes and looked destined to join Kohli in three numbers, only to draw the sparingly used Mitchell Starc to his stumps.

A hint of the relentless Australian effort came when Pete Handscomb knocked out Umesh Yadav after Kohli tried to hold the bat with a tight second run. However, Handscomb next angered when he caught a difficult low chance from Kohli at Long-On.

When Lyon’s ban reached 65 overs, it became the longest of his Test career, which rather summed up the toll that innings and pitch had on the Aussies. It was left to Murphy to finally dig out Lyon and score another outfield catch.

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Ryan Sederquist

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