Opener Shubman Gill scored his second Test century, and his first in India, while Virat Kohli looked at his fluent best to be unbeaten on 59 as the hosts’ reached 289/3 in 99 overs, trailing Australia by 191 runs at stumps on day three of fourth Test.
On another hot day at the Narendra Modi Stadium, Gill dazzled the most with his 128 off 235 balls, laced with 12 fours and a six. Kohli, on the other hand, overcame a nervous start before tea to get his first fifty in the format, with the help of five fours, since the Cape Town Test in January 2022 to put India in a strong position as only three wickets fell on Saturday.
With minimal help for bowlers from the pitch, Gill unleashed a lovely cover drive for four against Mitchell Starc. With Starc pitching short, Gill got a glove edge on the pull and evaded the keeper to get another boundary in the 13th over.
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Rohit Sharma then joined the party to take runs off Starc — a swiveled four was followed by another trademark pull over long leg for six. With Australia bringing in Matthew Kuhnemann and Nathan Lyon from both ends, the visitors managed to get control as the odd ball did some interesting things, while Steve Smith constantly shuffled fields to force an error from the Indian batters.
After losing a review against Gill, Australia finally had a breakthrough when Kuhnemann dropped short and Rohit, shaping for an uppish backfoot punch, send the ball straight to short extra cover in the 21st over.
With Cheteshwar Pujara showing the intent to score runs from the word go, Gill got his fifty in 90 balls with a backfoot punch through cover off Starc. When Starc came back in his next over, Gill was quick to produce his trademark short-arm jab to send the short ball through mid-wicket for four.
Pujara used his feet very well and it was illustrated when he danced down the pitch to drive an overpitched Todd Murphy delivery through extra cover. Murphy produced an interesting moment when he got one to run through the gate from the footmarks but it missed the stumps, eluding the batter as well as the keeper.
Post lunch, Gill’s timing continued to be exquisite, closing the face of the bat at the right moment to clip Cameron Green through mid-on for four. Pujara, on the other hand, used the pace from Green’s short ball to guide it fine for four.
From there, Australia kept Gill and Pujara in check for 97 balls. But the duo managed to negotiate a tricky phase really well when Australia dried up the runs and never lost their calm.
Gill then broke the shackles in the 57th over with back-to-back boundaries — a punch on backfoot through cover was followed by a sumptuous cover drive between mid-off and cover. Pujara used his feet against Murphy to drive down the ground for four, followed by Gill dancing down the pitch to smash a boundary off Lyon.
Gill then reached the three-figure mark with a sweep over the leg slip off Murphy, with a sizeable crowd rising to applause a magnificent knock. But the off-spinner closed the over by trapping Pujara lbw with a delivery which turned in and went past the inside edge to hit him low on pads.
Lyon threatened Kohli by beating him and edging short of a slip in the final over before tea. Gill continued from where he left in the second session, bringing out the reverse sweep off Murphy for four. With him and Kohli rotating the strike, Gill broke a five-over non-boundary period by dancing down the pitch to whip Lyon through mid-wicket.
Kohli welcomed Starc by driving through mid-off with the straight bat and then ended the over by clipping through the square leg for a brace of boundaries. He grew better as the overs progressed, driving Murphy through cover for a boundary.
When Starc pitched back of the length, Kohli was quick to open the bat face and dab through third man for four. Australia finally had a wicket in the 79th over when an exhausted Gill was on the backfoot to face a full off-break ball from Lyon. He was trapped right in front of the stumps after being beaten on the inside edge.
With conditions not changing much for batters, Kohli continued to get runs, tucking Lyon through the fine leg to eventually get his fifty in 107 balls and raised his bat for a half-century in Test cricket after 14 months.
Shortly after Australia took the second new ball, Ravindra Jadeja broke the shackles by dancing down the pitch to thump Kuhnemann for a six over wide long-on, three overs before stumps happened, with India amassing 101 runs from the final session in a sedate day of Test cricket.
Brief scores: Australia 480 lead India 289/3 in 99 overs (Shubman Gill 128, Virat Kohli 59 not out; Matthew Kuhnemann 1-43, Todd Murphy 1-45) by 191 runs
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