Brisbane: Shubman Gill announced his arrival on the global stage with a sublime 91 while Cheteshwar Pujara surpassed all pain threshold barriers to keep India on course for a challenging 328-run target, taking the score to 183/3 at tea on the final day of the fourth Test here on Tuesday.
Skipper Ajinkya Rahane (24 off 22 balls) looked good before Pat Cummins (2/22 in 17 overs) dismissed him to keep Australia in hunt during an engrossing session of a high quality Test match. Gill on Tuesday showed he is there to rule world cricket despite missing out on a hundred as his disdainful treatment of Mitchell Starc will be remembered for a long time.
Pujara, on the other hand, saw Australian try out a menacing short ball tactic. He took a few on the helmet, a few more on the chest and other parts and a painful one on the knuckles to remain unfazed on 43 off 168 balls as India need to either score 145 runs or bat out another 37 overs to regain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.
With Rishabh Pant (10 batting, 23 balls) for company, India might just take a sneak peek at that target during the final session. The first two sessions were about different school of batsmanship where Gill and Pujara showed that there are multiple ways to skin a cat and no two ways are similar.
If Pujara was ready to duck, sway and cop body blows off Hazlewood and Cummins, showing the art of survival, young Gill, on his first tour of Australia was ready to take the intimidatory tactic head on by bringing the pull shot out of his repertoire. The duo during its 114-run stand showed that very contrasting styles can co-exist without conflict even as fans of both genres can have a field day on social media arguing which is the more appropriate approach.
The fifth day pitch at the Gabba seemed to be pretty flat with not much help for the Australia pacers as Gill played a few cut shots and comfortably drove on the up. With no lateral movement either in the air or off the pitch, Gill looked comfortable with his "playing beside the line of the ball" technique.
Against the '100 Test man' Nathan Lyon, Gill came down the track to hit a flowing cover drive even as the seasoned off-spinner's tactic of not having close-in fielders on the off-side invited sharp criticism from Shane Warne, who was on air. After eight fours and two sixes, Gill was finally caught on the wrong foot when Lyon changed his line to a one wide of off-stump and the result was an edge to the first slip.
The placid nature of the track also didn't help the Australians who kept an attacking field for the better part of the session. Among Gill's shots, the backfoot cover drive off Hazlewood would stay with any fan for the longest time. He also used Starc's bounce to slash him over backward point for a six and also pulled him for good measure. His intent rubbed off on Pujara, who also played a few strokes, and Rahane during his short stay at the crease, showing that India is not afraid of chasing the target.