Gill ton powers India’s reply but Australia still ahead

AHMEDABAD: Shubman Gill’s sparkling century and an unbeaten 59 by Virat Kohli kept India strong in their first innings reply against a persistent Australian spin attack in the fourth Test on Saturday.

India reached 289-3 at stumps, still trailing Australia’s 480 by 191 runs on day three at the world’s biggest cricket stadium in Ahmedabad.

Gill stood out with his 128 — the opener’s second Test ton — as he built key partnerships including a 113-run stand for the second wicket with Cheteshwar Pujara, who made 42.

Spinners kept coming back with wickets as Nathan Lyon, Matthew Kuhnemann and Todd Murphy took one each on a pitch favouring the batsmen.

The 23-year-old Gill, who replaced a struggling KL Rahul in the third Test, hit 12 fours and one big six in a good show of batting to surpass his previous Test best of 110.

He finally fell lbw to Lyon’s off spin in the final session before Kohli took charge along with the left-handed Ravindra Jadeja, on 16, to see off the day’s play.

Kohli reached his first Test half-century since January 2022 after a jittery start to his innings when he got off the mark on the 12th ball.

Australia delayed taking the second new ball, available to the fielding side after the 80th over, by 14 overs.

Earlier Gill overcame a tough spell of run-making in the second session to raise his ton with a fine sweep off Murphy, taking a bow as the raucous weekend crowd applauded, but lost his partner Pujara four balls later.

Murphy trapped Pujara lbw, ending a stand which prospered after skipper Rohit Sharma fell to Kuhnemann’s left-arm spin for 35 in the morning session.

Australia’s stand-in-skipper Steve Smith rotated his bowlers, who remained disciplined in their line and length to test the batsmen’s patience for much of the hot afternoon.

Gill broke the shackles with two successive boundaries off Cameron Green to bring the crowd alive with delightful cover drives.

India started the day on 36-0 and kept attacking.

Mitchell Starc bowled to plan with his short balls and a heavy leg-side field, but Rohit took on the challenge as he smashed the left-arm quick for a four and a six at long leg.

The pitch has been vastly different from the viciously spinning tracks in the previous three Tests and Usman Khawaja made Australia take early advantage with his 180.

India lead the four-match series 2-1 after Australia won the third Test.

The hosts need a win to clinch the series and secure a berth in the World Test Championship final in June.

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