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4th TEST, DAY 3 HIGHLIGHTS: Shardul, Sundar bat India out of grave, Aussies lead by 54 runs

We told you yesterday, India love to stage fightbacks. Now we must say, India are addicted to staging fightbacks, that too with an “inexperienced” bunch of boys!

Even though India couldn’t surpass Australia’s first-innings score of 369 on the third day of the Gabba Test and got restricted to 336, debutant Washinton Sundar and Shardul Thakur, who is now 2-match old in Tests, put up a massive 123-run partnership for the 7th wicket to bring down the gap with the hosts to only 33 runs.

The young duo’s resilience, which flourished when India were 186-6 and looked in deep trouble, steered India clear of all sorts of danger. Australia, finished the day on 21-0, with India trailing the hosts by 54 runs.

Shardul en route to his 115-ball 67 played some glorious shots and, in fact, brought up his 50 with a stylish six. His innings was studded with 9 boundaries and two sixes.

Sundar who had barely played 12 matches in his first class cricket stunned with his technique, composure and mature batting. After impressing with his off-break, his knock of 62 (144) will certainly be one of the best Test knocks by a debutant lower-order batsman.

In case you haven’t watched his ‘don’t-mess-with-me’ sixer off Nathan Lyon towards the fag end of the Indian innings, you must be missing out on something extraordinary.

The duo’s partnership frustrated the Aussies for almost two sessions before Pat Cummins dismissed Shardul to hand the hosts a much-needed breakthrough. Mitchell Starc accounted for Sundar while Josh Hazlewood wiped out the tail to end up with a fifer (5-57).

Earlier, starting on an overnight score of 62-2, the pair of Ajinkya Rahane (37) and Cheteshwar Pujara (25), couldn’t last long and even though Mayank Agarwal (38) showed some of his class and aggression, India lost wickets at regular intervals to put the hosts in the drivers’ seat for the first half of the day.

You may want to see this six from Agarwal’s bat, in case you have missed it.

And this is how Steve Smith juggled before ending Agarwal’s short but his longest innings in the tournament so far.

India’s success now will largely depend on how effective India’s bowling gets on Day 4, especially on a track that doesn’t have much to offer to the bowlers yet.