Brisbane: Debutant Washington Sundar and Shardul Thakur punched above their weight with splendid half-centuries to keep Australia at bay and India bullish after an engrossing third day’s play in the series-deciding fourth Test here on Sunday.
Australia’s openers — David Warner (20) and Marcus Harris (1) — saw out six overs, and extended the home team’s lead to 54 by stumps after India’s first innings ended at 336.
However, Australia’s lead could have been much more had it not been for a delightful 123-run partnership for the seventh wicket between Washington (62) and Shardul (67), who defied and then attacked the rival bowling attack with gusto.
“We knew their bowlers were tiring out a bit so it was a matter of hanging in there for one hour. We knew we probably would be on top if we hung in,” said Shardul at the post-play press conference.
Pacer Josh Hazlewood finished with a well-deserved 5/57 for Australia, a reward for consistently bowling with an impeccable line and length at a brisk pace.
Playing in his first Test, Washington got to his maiden fifty in the traditional format while finding the fence seven times and clearing it once. He became the first visiting cricketer in Australia in 74 years to grab three wickets and smash a half-century on debut. The one before him was also an Indian, Dattu Phadkar, who made 51 while batting at No.8 and took three wickets during a 1947/48 tour.
Earlier, Washington and Shardul did not let Australia run away with the game after Hazlewood sliced through India’s middle-order with the wickets of Mayank Agarwal (38) and Rishabh Pant (23) at the start of the second session.
Earlier, Cheteshwar Pujara (25) added 43 runs with Rahane before falling to a near unplayable delivery by Hazlewood in only his second over of the day.
BRIEF SCORES: AUS 1ST INNS: 369; IND 1ST INNS: 336 all out (S Thakur 67, W Sundar 62; Hazlewood 5/57). AUS 2ND INNS: 21 for no loss (Warner 20*, Harris 1*).