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On a day of attrition, Shubman Gill’s century sparks a powerful India response.

On a day of attrition, Shubman Gill's century sparks a powerful India response.

Australia 480 (Khawaja 180, Green 114, Ashwin 6-91) leads India 289 for 3 (Gill 128, Kohli 59*) by 191 runs.

In the second week of the third month, Shubman Gill led India’s response to Australia’s 480 runs by scoring his fifth international century of the year. Australia did a good job for extended stretches of time controlling the scoring rate, but Gill was not to be stopped for long: his 128 off 235 was a contrast to the 152 the others scored from 361 balls combined.

With seven wickets in hand, India concluded the third day 191 runs down. Virat Kohli ended the day with the possibility of scoring a hundred, scoring his first fifty since the Cape Town Test at the beginning of last year.

More misbehavior and turn were present in the pitch, but not nearly enough to make survival challenging. Hence, Australia took the next best action by bowling to one side of the field and waiting for errors. The hitters learned that while their wicket may not have been under much threat, scoring wasn’t exactly simple either.

In many ways, this Test has been the polar opposite of the last three. One of these was a return to the traditional Indian practice of making batting against the new ball simpler. The first 15 over of three of the four new balls used in this match had gone for 193 runs and no wickets as a result of India’s early onslaught on Mitchell Starc. Strangely, Starc failed to provide rough for his two offspinners by bowling primarily around the wicket.

The runs stopped as soon as Australia started to spin from both ends, and a loose stroke appeared. Matt Kuhnemann’s harmless-looking delivery was punched by Rohit Sharma straight to short extra cover. There had only been 10 runs scored in the six over that came before the wicket.

The combination between Gill and Cheteshwar Pujara didn’t get off to a fast start, but after Australia picked up its tempo, the tap started to open again. Starc’s next spell’s second ball was cover-driven to raise Gill’s fifty. Gill played the short-arm punch past midwicket for four more runs in Starc’s subsequent delivery. Before midday, Pujara also started to move.

Although a few deliveries in the first session had roiled the surface, nothing significant happened. Australia returned with plans that were more specific. Seven-two leg-side fields with everything turning in were frequently used. India went 16 overs in the middle session without scoring a boundary after the first two boundaries off Cameron Green.
Yet, neither Pujara nor Gill showed any signs of pain for the entire time. Pace eventually gave Gill a chance. He left two beautiful cover drives off Green, the first on the rise and the second to the wider ball, to mark it. Gill, who was in his nineties, danced to Lyon to knock him off his feet before playing the sweep over leg slip to reach his second Test century.

A Todd Murphy offbreak from around the wicket that Pujara appeared to play down the wrong line with just before tea appeared to be an unforced error as well. Although Pujara futilely attempted to review the lbw ruling, the audience clapped in anticipation of Kohli’s arrival. Kohli was defeated on the outside edge once during the final over before tea. He edged one wide of short leg and one short of slip.

Gill and Kohli were much more productive after tea, running hard and taking no chances. Kohli took over his scoring as Gill started to cramp, adding 32 to the 58-run stand. Gill finally committed the fatal error, running back to a rapid full offbreak from Nathan Lyon and getting stuck right in front, after only nine incorrect reactions in such a lengthy innings.

India abandoned any aspirations to dominate the bowling and played conservatively in the batting order. Australia held off claiming the new ball for the final 20 minutes even though it was only eight balls away.

When Kohli leapt forward in defense, the offspinners continued to attempt to test both of his edges, but the one time the inside edge was taken, they did not have a short leg in place, which may occur when bowling at 250 for 3. Kohli appeared to be in complete control, but for the occasional half-error.

Australia only succeeded in increasing its run rate by sticking with the old ball. In the first 15.2 overs of their fourth-wicket partnership, Kohli and Ravindra Jadeja only managed to score 26 runs. Jadeja had 6 off 42 when the new ball was taken, and he immediately smashed Kuhnemann for a six.

Nonetheless, the last exchanges largely consisted of a cease-fire on both sides. India took less risks while Australia had fewer catchers. The Test needed a spectacular outcome when only 13 wickets fell in three days for a total score.

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