Shardul Thakur and Washington Sundar showed character, belief and grit to ensure India reach a position of safety at the end of Day 3
Day 3 of the Gabba test was crucial not only for the outcome of this test match but also for the series. A good day here and India would certainly retain the Border Gavaskar trophy. As Rahane and Pujara came out to bat, they knew they had to occupy the crease and score runs too. Both the batters did well, they saw off the initial few overs, and then started scoring runs. But once more Pujara who was batting at a much lower strike rate as usual, perished after getting set, again a good ball from Hazelwood accounting for him. In this series, Pujara hasn’t been able to kick on after getting set in the middle. Something that he did frequently in India’s 2018 tour of Australia. Pujara went for 25 and India were 105/3.
After this, Mayank Agarwal included in this test and batting at 5 joined Rahane in the middle. For a period there both these players looked very comfortable in the middle, but Starc came back and got Rahane out. The shot Rahane played was a poor one, chasing and nicking a ball on the 6th stump. Indian batsmen have been guilty of throwing their wickets away once set, first it was Rohit and now Rahane, leaving India 144/4.
Rishabh Pant joined Mayank Agarwal at the middle. At lunch India 161/4.
Post Lunch: Sundar and Thakur rule the roost
Post lunch India lost Mayank early, score was 163/5. As Washington Sundar joined Rishabh Pant in the middle, the theory of selecting bowlers based also on their batting ability was to be tested. The point is, if you selected Sundar ahead of Kuldeep Yadav based on his skills with the bat as well, it was time he showed it. And the same went for Shardul Thakur too. With Rishabh Pant getting out playing one of his t20 shots, India looked like they were down and out at 187/6.
What happened next was remarkable and reaffirming of what team play, accountability and shared responsibility looks like. This Indian team just knows how to keep on fighting. Washington Sundar and Shardul Thakur together did what top order batters would be proud off. They defended, attacked in bits and took India safely to 253/6 at tea.
Post tea: Sundar and Thakur double down
Post tea Thakur and Sundar did more of the same, getting behind the line, playing good cricketing shots, leaving deliveries outside off etc. While there might have been some hope, no one could have predicted this fight back from the Indians. This comeback is what has brought a lot of joy to the Indian fans.
Was this the same Indian team that had capitulated for 36 in the First Test?
Hard to imagine.
Finally, after notching up a 123 run partnership for the 8th wicket, Shardul Thakur got out for 67, with India at 309/7 and firmly back in the match. Shortly after Washington went too, out for a fantastic innings of 62. Washington in this match has taken 3 wickets, and then scored a potential match saving 62. No praise is enough for these two lower order batsman from India, true grit!
India did not bat for long after that and were all out for 336. Australia came out to bat after that, and were 21/0 at the end of the 3rd day's play, with an overall lead of 54.
If rain stays away from the match, this match could end up being a thriller!