Border Gavaskar Trophy 2022-23, India vs Australia, 4th Test, Day 3: Shubman Gill's 128 and contributions from Cheteshwar Pujara (42) and Virat Kohli (59*) take India to 289-3 at the stumps on day 3.
Brief Scores: India 289-3 (Shubman 128, Kohli 59*, Lyon 1-75) trail Australia 480 (Khawaja 180, Green 114, Ashwin 6-91) by 191 runs at Stumps on Day 3
India Started Day 3 at 36-0 with Australia still miles ahead in the Test match. A hot boiling Saturday was on the cards at Ahmedabad where the sun was the best player on the field, shining brighter than all the 22 players in whites at 37 degrees Celsius on an average. The star of the day was Shubman Gill who played a sensational Test knock. India lost just three wickets in form of Rohit Sharma, Cheteshwar Pujara and Shubman Gill in the entire day, a wicket each in every session of play. Australia bowled tight lines with in and out fields to restrict the flow of runs on this flattish wicket. India ended up scoring 253 runs in 89 overs on Day 3 to bring down the deficit to 191 runs.
Australia execute good defensive strategy
Steven Smith put on his thinking cap on Day 3 and cleverly put on defensive field set ups to which the Australian bowlers responded well by bowling tight lines. Though Australia only picked three wickets on Day 3 but they were successful in applying the brakes on the scoring rate. A masterclass Test hundred from Shubman Gill helped India to somewhat anchor their ship towards safety. The silver lining for India was Virat Kohli’s solid knock of 59*, one which has been long due for the former captain.
Let’s take a look at the sessionwise progress of the game on Day 3 in the Ahmedabad Test between India and Australia.
Session 1: India’s top-order cashes in on good wicket
India trailed Australia by 444 runs when play began on Day 3, and needed not just good Test match innings from one or two, but three to four batters. Rohit Sharma continued with his positive intent from Day 2, and was looking assertive while taking the bowlers on. He was soon dismissed in the first session after scoring 35 runs. A nothing shot to a very poor short delivery from Matthew Kuhnemann, Rohit went on the backfoot to punch it as the ball didn’t come as Rohit expected it to and ended up giving catching practice to Marnus Labuschagne at short cover.
Shubman Gill was looking as solid as an uncut diamond. Playing with a good mix of defensive and aggressive cricket on this pitch which was not flat enough to go bonkers, and not bowling-friendly either to present a dead bat. India’s no. 3, Cheteshwar Pujara’s patience was going to be key on this wicket. A solid 55-run partnership between the two led India to 129-1 at the end of first session. India scored 93 runs losing one wicket in 27 overs in the opening session on Day 3.
Session 2: Shubman Gill brings up his second Test hundred
A pitch with zero to no assistance to the bowlers is a graveyard when Cheteshwar Pujara stamps his foot with a straight dead bat. And that exactly was the mantra for Team India: Pujara tiring the bowlers and Gill being the attacker - a perfect balance of attack and defence both sides of the wicket.
Steven Smith was smart enough to give a spread out field to allow his bowlers to bowl into the wicket. Exploiting the field, Gill played a cheeky little, paddle sweep off Todd Murphy to bring up his second Test hundred and his first in India. The proactive captaincy from Smith helped Australia dry up the runs but not before the duo put on a 113-run partnership. Soon after Gill’s century, Pujara was trapped LBW by Todd Murphy.
It was a real hard-fought session for India with runs coming at just 2.26 runs per over, and Australia being rewarded just at the brink of tea. A shared session to say the least with just 59 runs comings in 26 overs with big-fish Pujara back in the hut.
Session 3: A grinding session, with Kohli upping the ante
Kohli and Shubman stayed positive and it looked like the duo enjoyed the challenge presented by the Aussie spinners. The duo ensured that they didn’t allow a single maiden over post tea session for 14 overs till the 78th over, where Todd Murphy bowled a maiden to Kohli. The runs were coming, in singles, doubles and the odd boundaries in between and India were looking comfortably poised. The hot fuming Sun was playing its role in between with multiple drinks breaks and Shubman struggling with cramps thanks to the tight singles and doubles.
The positive partnership was finally ended by Nathan Lyon who was able to finally rip one through from outside off stump after pitching on good length; Gill who stayed on the backfoot failed to bring the bat down in time and the ball turned in sharply to trap him plumb in front of the wickets. A little lapse of concentration from Gill who was receiving regular treatments for his cramps in between.
Ravindra Jadeja was sent in ahead of Shreyas Iyer again, which has been the story of this series. Smith was clever enough to capitalise and continued with his two off-spinners against Jadeja. Both Lyon and Murphy, didn’t look to turn the ball away from Jadeja and kept on darting in the arm deliveries into Jadeja’s pad, which restricted the left-hander from scoring freely. While Jadeja was taking his time, Virat Kohli was keeping the scorecard ticking at the other end with singles and doubles and brought on his 29th Test fifty. The last time Kohli scored a fifty was back in January 2022, when he was still Team India’s Test captain. Pre-empting that the new ball would leak runs, Australia delayed taking the new ball for 14 overs since it became available.
What to Expect on Day 4
With over 750+ runs being scored in three days of play, the pitch clearly seems to be the flattest that one has seen in the series. With two days of play left, India still trail by 191 runs and the pitch is expected to spin on the last two days. The fourth day would be the moving day, where one might see both the teams taking those additional chances.
A strong and aggressive batting performance on the fourth day would be the need of the hour for India, and if Australia pick up few wickets in the first hour of play, it will definitely be their match to lose thereafter.
Statistical Highlights from India vs Australia, 4th Test, Day 3, Ahmedabad
Cheteshwar Pujara went pass the 2000-run mark against Australia, and became only the sixth player after Sachin Tendulkar (3630), VVS Laxman (2434), Rahul Dravid (2143), Michael Clarke (2049), Ricky Ponting (2555) to score 2000-plus runs in Border Gavaskar Trophy.
Virat Kohli went pass the 4000-run mark in Test matches in India; He is now behind Sachin Tendulkar (7216), Rahul Dravid (5598), Sunil Gavaskar (5067) and Virender Sehwag (4656) in this list.
Virat Kohli brought up his 29th Test fifty. This was his first 50+ score in 16 innings in Tests - the longest interval without a 50+ score in his career of over 14 months.