Ahmedabad: Watched by the Indian and Australian Prime Ministers, Narendra Modi and Anthony Albanese, opener Usman Khawaja grinded a hard-fought century (batting 104) to help Australia reach 255 for four at stumps on the first day of the fourth and final Test at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Motera.
The match, which began with both the two PMs going around the stadium in a cart and meeting the players of the two sides, started on a strong note for the Australians.
Khawaja added 61 for the first wicket with fellow opener Travis Head (32) before the latter was caught at mid-on, after failing to clear the fielder off the bowling R Ashwin (1/57).
Soon Marnus Labuschagne was bowled off an inside edge off the bowling of Mohammad Shami (2/65) for just three runs.
But Australia’s stand-in skipper Steve Smith (38) and Khawaja added 79 runs for the third wicket to bring Australia back in the game.
Left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja (1/49) bowled Smith off an inside edge just after tea and soon after Shami bowled a ball that moved a bit off the seam to beat Peter Handscomb and leave the stump cart-wheeling.
The Indians were back in the game but Cameron Green’s entry at the crease propelled Australia’s scoring rate.
His unbeaten 49 off 64 balls was the biggest contribution in the 106 runs scored by Australia in the final session. He hit eight boundaries during his stay.
Khawaja, on the other hand, moved to his century in the last over of the day.
“Head took the new ball down. He was smacking them. Was pretty good to watch that from the other end. It was such a nice pitch, I didn’t want to give my wicket away. It was a mental battle. You need to put your ego away,” said the 36-year-old left-handed batsman after the match.