It took until the third-last day of the series, but India finally found a Test centurion on this tour after Virat Kohli showed the fight that his colleagues have lacked. But on the national holiday of both India and Australia, there was more for the hosts to celebrate, as Peter Siddle finished with five wickets and Australia ended up with a lead of 382. By stumps, India still faced a major challenge to save the Adelaide Test and avoid a whitewash. If they do lose 4-0, it won't be Kohli's fault.
He was the last man out in India's innings as he chased quick late runs, and was lbw to Ben Hilfenhaus for 116. The Indians fell 133 short of the follow-on mark but Michael Clarke chose not to enforce it, preferring to give his bowlers a break and ensure India had the task of batting last on a pitch where that isn't always easy. By stumps, Australia were 3 for 50, but unless India could skittle the rest cheaply on the fourth morning, the wickets meant little to the match.
David Warner chipped a return catch to R Ashwin for 28 and Ed Cowan (10) was trapped lbw by Ashwin's arm ball, but it was the dismissal of Shaun Marsh sandwiched in between those strikes that the Australians least wanted to see. Marsh was lbw to Zaheer Khan for a duck, completing a series in which he has scored 0, 3, 0, 11, 3 and 0, and sealing his certain axing for the tour of the West Indies.
At the close, Michael Clarke was on 9 and Ricky Ponting had 1, and Australia were likely to aim to bat until about lunch on the fourth day before giving their bowlers the chance to attack India's batsmen again. To avoid defeat, India will need somebody else to stand up in that batting line-up besides Kohli, whose maiden Test hundred was the high point of a dismal tour for the batsmen.
Kohli did have support from Wriddhiman Saha between lunch and tea, and it appeared the two were going to steer India through a session without losing a wicket, something they haven't achieved in the series. That goal proved out of reach when Saha misjudged a leave in the final over before tea and lost his off stump on 35 as Ryan Harris nipped the ball back in.
After the break, Siddle (5 for 49) was quickly on a hat-trick when he had Ashwin lbw for 5 and then Zaheer nicked behind for a golden duck next delivery. Ishant Sharma survived the hat-trick ball and gave Kohli some support in scoring 16 before he missed a ball on off stump and was bowled by Hilfenhaus, who finished with 3 for 62.
Umesh Yadav finished not out without having to face a ball as Kohli picked up a few late boundaries with creative hitting over cover and down the ground, which followed some tense words exchanged between Kohli and some of the Australian fielders. It was a fine innings from Kohli, who brought up his maiden Test hundred with a two through the off side, initially caught up in the moment and celebrating after taking the first run before he realised a second was on offer.
He showed his senior colleagues how it was done on a surface not offering a great deal of assistance to the bowlers. In the second session India added 103 Kohli and Saha both turned the strike over, Kohli especially going for his shots. He brought up his second half-century of the series with a boundary through midwicket off Hilfenhaus, and he was willing to go after the spin of Nathan Lyon and Michael Clarke, including with a slog-sweep for six off Lyon.
His fight was important for India after their miserable pre-lunch session, in which they lost three wickets. By the time Australia lost their fifth wicket they had 520 on the board; India had 111. In the first session of the day they lost Sachin Tendulkar, Gautam Gambhir and VVS Laxman as the pressure from Australia's bowlers and fielders built up.
Gambhir and Tendulkar survived the initial morning period and took their partnership to 47 before the introduction of Siddle ended the stand and gave Australia a major boost on the national holiday of both countries. He drew an edge from Tendulkar (25) and the ball flew low to second slip, where Ponting did well to get his fingers under the ball to take the catch.
Siddle proved himself Clarke's go-to man when he also got rid of Gambhir for 34. Not for the first time in the series extra bounce troubled Gambhir, who fended a well-directed short ball that flew high into the off side and was snapped by Michael Hussey, who did well to run in from gully and take the catch diving forward.
It was a fine spell from Siddle, who entered the match with only one Test wicket for 241 runs at the Adelaide Oval. His strikes were followed by a wicket for Lyon, who turned the ball impressively and found an edge from VVS Laxman (18) when the batsman tried to run the ball fine. Brad Haddin completed the catch, and India's pain continued.
Kohli granted them some relief later in the day, but a mountain of work remained for them to save the match.