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4th Test, Ahmedabad, March 09 - 13, 2023, Australia tour of India
480 & 175/2d

Match drawn


Usman Khawaja and Cameron Green masterclasses take Australia to 480

R Ashwin, putting in a special performance of his own on a track offering little assistance, made sure they did not bat India out of the game

Alex Malcolm
Alex Malcolm
India 36 for 0 (Gill 18*, Rohit 17*) trail Australia 480 (Khawaja 180, Green 114, Ashwin 6-91) by 444 runs
An epic 10-hour 180 from Usman Khawaja and a dazzling maiden Test century from Cameron Green helped Australia post an imposing first-innings total in Ahmedabad but it would have been far greater without six wickets from a tireless R Ashwin to ensure India weren't batted completely out of the game.
Khawaja and Green shared a magnificent stand of 208, the first double-century stand by an Australian pair in India since 1979 and just the fifth overall. Khawaja faced 422 balls over more than five sessions to post the third-highest score by an Australian in India. He deserved a double-century but fell to one of his only lapses in the innings first ball after tea. Green struck 18 boundaries in an equally dominant display to shake off the Test century monkey that was starting to grow into a gorilla on his broad back.
But Ashwin conjured some magic either side of tea taking five of the last six wickets to finish with 6 for 91 from a relentless 47.2 overs on a pitch offering precious little assistance to the spinners compared to the raging turners of the previous three Tests.
Batting in black armbands to honour absent captain Pat Cummins' mother Maria following her passing overnight, Khawaja and Green prospered in the first three hours of the second day. The pair complemented each other beautifully, batting through the entire first session almost faultlessly.
Khawaja continued on his merry way from his first-day century. The serenity of his play was something to behold. He was completely unflustered throughout, picking off bad balls without risk and defending with ease. He never looked in any kind of trouble. Every time India's bowlers erred straight, he tucked them away with sublime timing. Any time they erred wide, he would find a gap with elegant simplicity.
Green fed off Khawaja's energy to play the best innings of his career to date. An elusive Test century had been hanging over his head across his first 19 Tests, having failed to convert six previous Test half-centuries despite having scored eight first-class hundreds.
He began the day on 49 and moved swiftly through the gears in the opening session. While Khawaja rotated the strike serenely, Green pummelled anything loose with eye-catching authority. Every time Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav overpitched, he dispatched them down the ground either side of mid-off. Shami tested him with the short stuff with men back on the fence as he neared the nervous 90s, and he clubbed a devastating pull shot to end that mode of attack moments after it started.
He was patient to the spinners, defending solidly on the front foot and driving to long-off and long-on to rotate the strike. He went after anything fractionally short and wide, never missing a cut shot that was offered. He had to eat lunch stuck on 95 but only needed eight balls after the break to celebrate his maiden Test century with Ravindra Jadeja dropping short and wide for him to crack it behind point.
Green looked set for a massive score, having converted four of his previous nine first-class centuries into 150-plus scores including a 251. But Ashwin's patience and willingness to dry him up on a leg-stump line eventually paid dividends. Having not swept a single ball in his entire innings, he tried to sweep a ball well down the legside and gloved it to KS Bharat.
It sparked a mini-collapse as Australia's tail threatened to fold cheaply yet again. Alex Carey played arguably his worst shot of the series trying to hit Ashwin over mid-off fourth ball only to skew a top edge to short third. Ashwin made it three wickets in quick succession when he had Mitchell Starc smartly caught at short leg by Shreyas Iyer via the inside edge.
But Nathan Lyon provided stubborn resistance having been promoted to No. 9. He produced the longest innings of his Test career batting for 133 minutes and surviving 96 balls for 34. He helped Khawaja get to tea and was determined to take him further but Khawaja fell first ball after the break, missing a short delivery on leg stump to be trapped lbw by Axar Patel. Khawaja cut a dejected figure having fallen 20 runs short of a maiden Test double-century just two months after posting 195 not out against South Africa.
India thought they would wrap the innings up in short time as per the previous three Tests but Todd Murphy made his highest first-class score of 41 with five boundaries. The pair added 70 and ground India into the dirt as they played with assuredness and comfort to prove how good a batting strip it is if you are prepared to spend time out there.
But Ashwin found a way through them with the third new ball, getting two offbreaks to skid on straight, with Murphy trapped plumb lbw and Lyon caught at slip.
Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill shook off any fatigue that might have developed from 167.2 overs in the field to bat out the last 10 overs of the day without any concerns. Both timed the ball sublimely to confirm the track is exceptional to bat on, particularly against the extra pace and bounce of Starc and Green. They were allowed fewer liberties against Lyon and Matthew Kuhnemann, although Gill launched Lyon into the stands in the final over of the day to make a statement.

Alex Malcolm is an Associate Editor at ESPNcricinfo

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