Australia 480 and 175 for December 2 (Head 90, Labuschagne 63*) tied with India 571 (Kohli 186, Gill 128, Axar 79, Murphy 3-113, Lyon 3-151)
The comatose field at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad had the last word as travis head and marnus labuschagne batted Australia a a comfortable draw in front of the huge but empty stands. Thus, a fourth straight Border-Gavaskar Trophy series ended with an identical result: 2-1 to India.
India needed to win three Tests in the series to secure their participation in the World Trials Championship Final against other results elsewhere, but received some good news just as the second session started: New Zealand had won a thriller in Christchurch to deny Sri Lanka, the only team that could challenge India’s progress to the final. The India group was seen shaking hands just as Kane Williamson was confirmed to have completed the Test-winning bye with the final ball.
Trailing India by 88 at the start of the day, Australia needed to bat just over two sessions to all but secure a draw. Although the ball made slightly more than it had before, they only lost two wickets on the day. One of those wouldn’t even have been thrown out if it had been a proper hitter and not night watchman Matthew Kuhnemann, who didn’t review the lbw write off. R Ashwin with the ball without leg.
It was a day of some triumph for Head and Labuschagne. Labuschagne started the series as a key batsman for Australia to succeed, he didn’t hit fifty in the first three even though he kept making desperate changes to his game to succeed. Head came up with a question mark over how he played against the spins, even within his team, who didn’t play against him in the first test.
Head found first place thanks to David Warner’s injury and eased his potentially tricky chase in Indore. Both Head and Labuschagne missed in the early innings on a pitch made for the batters. In the second inning, they put their heads down and both topped 50 for the first time in the series.
Conditions became increasingly difficult as the test progressed, but the launch was so slow that no real terrain resulted. The control percentage went from 90.3 in the first inning to 90.7 in the second to 86.8 in the third inning. Normally, the tests start with those numbers from the third entry and become progressively more difficult.
No matter how flat it is, funny things can happen when you try to save a test. Also, Usman Khawaja, Australia’s leading run-scorer in the series, had been hurt and was only going to bat if he desperately needed it. Head and Labuschagne made sure nothing of the sort happened even after Kuhnemann went down earlier that day.
Head also ensured the runs came quickly, leading Australia to parity and then overtaking the lead of India. Labuschagne was in no rush: he just wanted to enjoy his time in the sun. The closest India got to taking him out was when Ravindra Jadeja and Ashwin found the inside edge of him, but Jadeja didn’t have a short leg at all, and Ashwin didn’t have a short leg back.
Head was nearing what would have been an immensely satisfying hundred, but Axar Patel he did it with a fly ball that landed in the rough. He took it to 50 wickets in just 12 Tests even though he has only three in this series.
When the final session began, the only matter of interest was whether Labuschagne would make a hundred. That interest faded rather quickly, as he kept answering half volleys and added just seven to his 56 at tea. Shubman Gill and Cheteshwar Pujara also bowled, and the teams shook hands as soon as possible at the time they could have: with 17.5 overs remaining.
Australia stated at the time to give India 15 overs to bat, which is when the parties can agree to end a Test in a draw. That was as emphatic a statement as any against the release released for the Test.