Ahmedabad, March 10 (IANS) India openers Shubman Gill and Rohit Sharma saw off the tricky 10 overs with relative ease to be unbeaten on 18 and 17 respectively as the hosts were 36/0, trailing Australia by 444 runs at stumps on second day of the fourth Test, here on Friday.
With the pitch still in favour of stroke play at the Narendra Modi Stadium, Rohit was pristine in his timing, flicking and cutting off Mitchell Starc and Nathan Lyon with relative ease. On the other hand, Gill sweetly played a short-arm jab on a short ball from Cameron Green, before dancing down the pitch to smash a six off Lyon at the stroke of stumps.
Earlier, ace India off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin picked a six-wicket haul in a magical display of skill and control to bowl out Australia for 480. With pitch not showing much signs of sharp turn, Ashwin single-handedly got India back in the match, especially after having a wicketless morning session, ending with 6/91 in a relentless spell of 47.2 overs.
After picking three wickets in the second session, Ashwin took three more to get his six-fer and wrap Australia’s innings at 167.2 overs. For the visitors, posting a big total on a nice batting pitch was possible thanks to left-handed opener Usman Khawaja’s marathon 180, and Cameron Green smashing his first Test century through an entertaining 114, apart from Nathan Lyon and Todd Murphy sharing a 70-run stand for the ninth wicket.
In the morning, Green reached his half-century off just 67 balls with a single through long-off against Ravindra Jadeja. There was some uneven bounce when Mohammed Shami was introduced in the attack from the third over of the day, but that wasn’t enough to separate a zen-like Khawaja and an enterprising Green.
Green was crisp in his timing, when he slashed a short ball from Ashwin off back foot through the off-side. An erring Umesh Yadav provided the release to Australia when Khawaja whipped twice through square leg for boundaries.
Umesh continued to leak runs, as Khawaja slashed him through slip, before Green brought out a drive on the up through the gap at extra cover for another boundary. After being patient against spinners, Green feasted more on Umesh’s wayward bowling, driving thrice in the arc between straight down the ground and extra cover.
Khawaja’s focus and determination to bat on got him to reach 150 before lunch, through a pulled four off Shami, before Green survived a short-ball barrage by nailing the pull shot and got an outside edge wide of slip to collect a brace of boundaries off the fast bowler to keep Australia in the driver’s seat.
Post lunch, Green reached his first Test century in 144 balls with a square-cut off Jadeja through point. He got runs in quick succession – a drive on an overpitched ball from Shami was followed by drilling one through extra cover off Jadeja.
India finally had a breakthrough in the 131st over when Green went for a sweep on an off break going down leg from Ravichandran Ashwin. But Green could only glove it behind to KS Bharat, departing for 114 off 170 balls and hitting 18 boundaries, as India broke the 208-run stand for the fifth-wicket.
Ashwin had another success in the same over, foxing Alex Carey with a lovely off break pitched outside off-stump. Carey went for a big slog, but was nowhere near the pitch of the ball, and the thick outside edge flew to point.
Ashwin’s persistence was rewarded when Mitchell Starc came out to defend, but the ball took an inside edge to short leg for a sharp catch. Khawaja and Lyon took a boundary each by the fag end of the session to take Australia past 400.
The final session began with instant success for India as Khawaja missed a straighter ball from Axar Patel and was struck plumb in front of stumps, ending his ten-hour stay at the crease of 422 balls. With the pitch still being good to bat, Lyon and Murphy were able to get ten boundaries collectively off Axar, Ashwin and Shami.
Ashwin finally gave India success when he beat Murphy on the inside edge with an arm ball to trap him lbw and in his next over, the ace off-spinner drew an outside edge off Lyon, which was caught by slip after ricocheting off the wicketkeeper’s pad, ending Australia’s innings at 167.2 overs.
Brief Scores: Australia 480 in 167.2 overs (Usman Khawaja 180, Cameron Green 114; Ravichandran Ashwin 6/91, Mohammed Shami 2/134) lead India 36/0 in 10 overs (Shubman Gill 18 not out, Rohit Sharma 17 not out) by 444 runs