An India-Australia Test match at the Sydney Cricket Ground is perhaps incomplete without the mention of Sachin Tendulkar. It is also an equally difficult task to keep regular India captain Virat Kohli away from the discussion despite him being on paternity leave. Thanks to Australia batsman Marnus Labuschagne and India opener Shubman Gill both Tendulkar and Kohli's names were mentioned in the middle on Day 2 of the third Test.
Labuschagne and Gill were having banter on Friday when the Australian batsman, who was standing at forward short leg asked Gill about his favourite batsman.
"Who's your favourite player?" Asked Labuschagne between deliveries of Starc's second over.
"I will tell you after the match," replied Gill.
Labuschagne was not satisfied with the answer and he went on to ask whether it was Sachin Tendulkar or Virat Kohli.
"After the ball... Sachin? Do you reckon Virat?" he said.
Labuschagne did not stop there. His words continued when Rohit Sharma was on strike. "hey what did you do in quarantine?" he asked the India opener, who made a comeback to Indian XI in this Test match after spending 14 days in quarantine.
The calm and collected Gill (50, 101 balls), who was assured during those cover drives off Nathan Lyon and equally breathtaking while presenting his forward defence to Pat Cummins.
The 21-year-old and Rohit Sharma (26 off 77 balls) added 70 in 27 overs but more importantly set the stage for skipper Ajinkya Rahane (5 batting off 40 balls) and Cheteshwar Pujara (9 batting off 53 balls) to cash in on the batting-friendly conditions on the third day. A resolute India reached 96/2 after dismissing Australia for 338 on the second day of the third Test.
While Smith's 27th hundred (131 off 226 balls) and his 100-run stand with Marnus Labuschagne (91 off 196 balls), laid the foundation of a decent first innings total for the hosts, the Indian bowlers should be lauded for a grand comeback on a flat deck.
There was a point when Australia were cruising along at 206 for 2 but Jadeja (18-3-62-4) and the ever-dependable Jasprit Bumrah (25.4-7-66-2) put India back in the game with their controlled bowling on an unresponsive track.
In fact, Jadeja literally got a "five-for" as his brilliant direct throw from the deep ended Smith's knock just when he had decided to throw the kitchen sink at the bowlers.