Australian fast bowler Josh Hazlewood was full of praise for Shardul and Sundar and felt they batted beautifully on day three. He also added that the big partnership also showed that the wicket is very good to bat on and also expressed his happiness at getting rid of Cheteshwar Pujara.
After getting all-out on 36, this has been a series of many comebacks for India. In the MCG Test, they fought back and won the Test after the Adelaide debacle. In the SCG Test after being down and out on fifth day, they somehow escaped the loss as they batted 131 overs. Now, in the Gabba Test, with the team further down owing to injuries, and some poor batting from top six, they again fought back with an incredible 123-run seventh wicket stand between Washington Sundar and Shardul Thakur.
They counter-attacked against a tiring Aussie bowling unit and played some superb shots to help India finish with 336 in response to Australia's 369, an effort which garnered lot of praise given both are fairly inexperienced and came under tremendous pressure. Australian pace bowler Josh Hazlewood, who finished with figures of 5/57, praised India's lower-order pair and stated that they batted 'really well' but it also shows that the wicket was pretty 'good to bat'.
"Yes, it is obviously a crucial partnership (between Shardul and Washington), but then we had them. I think, 6/200 around that mark, so we thought we (were) on top there but to be fair the guys batted really well," Hazlewood said at the virtual post-day press conference, reported TOI.
"We didn't probably execute well as we could have in that period but (we) created a few little half chances. On any other day, hopefully we take those, but credit to those two guys (Shardul and Washington). They batted beautifully and I think it just shows the wicket is pretty good."
At one stage, Australia were all over India as the tourists were reduced to 186 for 6 with Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, Cheteshwar Pujara, Mayank Agarwal and Rishabh Pant failing to convert their starts into big scores. The Aussie pacer felt that overall they bowled well but admitted to not building up pressure as they erred with their line and lengths at times.
"I thought the guys did bowl really well again and everyone else backed us up. Just let a few moments slip, I think, and also a few a half chances there. If we could have grabbed them, it could have made a little difference," the 30-year-old said.
"It is a bit of frustration obviously, sometimes when you reduce a team to six down and you are on your way to knock them over, but as I said teams bat all the way down, specially some of the teams like England. Credit to him (Shardul), we missed our marking a little-bit in that little period.
"Probably bowled a touch short and bit of width here and there and just let him off the hook a little bit there and probably did not build the pressure, the way we wanted to. But again credit to him.
Cheteshwar Pujara was the leading run-scorer for India the last time they won in 2018/19 Down Under. However, this time around, barring the SCG Test where he made twin fifties, he has failed to even score a fifty once in the other five innings. Today, he was dismissed by Hazlewood's brilliant delivery on 25 which made him nick the ball to the keeper and the pacer was quite happy to get the key wicket.
"It is huge. He (Pujara) is obviously, probably the key wicket, one of the couple of key wickets there at the top order. If we can knock Pujara early, we get five, six, seven numbers in with a relatively hard and newish ball, so he plays a massive role for them and Patty (Pat Cummins) obviously has been on top of him this whole series," he said.
"He has still batted a bit of time here and there but we have really squeezed on the runs and I think that is playing on in his mind and bringing to his downfall."
Australia finished the day on 21 for 0 and have a lead of 54 runs with ten wickets in hand. But, the weather forecast for the next two days isn't great with chances of showers. Hazlewood said that a call on declaration will be taken after analyzing many factors including rain.
"I think, the way it is set up, it is probably going to be both. Probably depends (on) who bats, if Davy (David Warner) bats a long time, things happen pretty quickly as we know. I think it will be pretty similar to maybe Sydney, three-three and half sessions, maybe four sessions," he said.
"It all depends on probably the weather as well, a bit of rain forecast in the afternoon on both days, so that could come into calculations but, we will bat normal for the first two sessions tomorrow and see where we are."