There was some doubt about whether Shubman Gill would be able to translate his tremendous limited-overs form into Test cricket. He couldn’t score many runs in the previous Test after being preferred over the faltering KL Rahul. But this time, he rectified that record.
On Saturday, Gill delivered a fluent, compact 128 that led India’s strong reply to Australia’s first-innings total of 480 in the fourth and final Test in Ahmedabad. At stumps on Day III, India reached 289/3 and were 191 short of Australia’s total.
What also bodes well for India is Virat Kohli (59 batting) looking solid after being a tad iffy at the start, especially against Nathan Lyon. Having scored his first Test half-century after 15 innings, Kohli looks good to get a three-figure score. And if that happens, it will help India secure a good lead.
Shubman Gill of India gets his shot past Peter Handscomb of Australia at the Motera Stadium on Saturday. Getty Images
The star of the day, however, was none other than Gill, who also showed excellent composure and temperament to register his second Test hundred, and the first on Indian soil at the home venue of his IPL franchise Gujarat Titans. Although there was a little more turn for the spinners, the Motera pitch looked perfect for batting even on the third day and Gill simply cashed in on that.
Loss of concentration has hurt him earlier in red-ball cricket even when he looked well set. Captain Rohit Sharma’s dismissal off Matthew Kuhnemann late in the day’s first session came much against the run of play and could well have disrupted Gill’s flow.
But this appears to be a more mature Gill as he kept his head down, tried to remain as resolute as possible in his defence, particularly during the vital 113-run second-wicket stand with the calm Cheteshwar Pujara (42) and produced the strokes only when the ball was there in his arc.
A superb back-foot drive for four off the pedestrian Mitchell Starc brought up Gill’s fifty before lunch on Saturday, while an improvised sweep off off-spinner Todd Murphy, which fetched him another boundary, helped him to his century towards the close of the second session.
In fact, that sweep was one of the few aerial strokes that Gill played during the course of his 235-ball knock that comprised 12 boundaries and a maximum. Gill looked good enough to get past 150, till Lyon got one to spin in sharply and trap him lbw.
Lyon, who again stood out with his discipline on a comparatively flatter track, heaped praise on Gill, calling him “a special player.”
“That one I got him (Gill) out with was probably a little bit flatter, a little bit faster than what he was expecting. So a decent ball on my behalf, but I thought the way he went about it was pretty special,” Lyon said.
“He looked quite comfortable and confident with the way he was going about it.”
For Australia, it was mainly due to the tight bowling by Lyon, Murphy and left-armer Kuhnemann that they conceded not more than 253 runs after India resumed Day III on 36/0. Given the current situation, they do need to make early inroads on Sunday as even a slender lead for India could make matters tougher for the visitors, considering their tendency to collapse in these conditions.