A resolute India reached 96/2 after dismissing Australia for 338 on the second day of the third Test at Sydney Cricket Ground on Friday.
The Indian bowlers, especially Jadeja (18-3-62-4) and the ever-dependable Jasprit Bumrah (25.4-7-66-2), were brilliant with their length on a flat SCG deck where Smith (131 off 226 balls) along with Marnus Labuschagne (91 off 196 balls) raised visions of a 450-plus total.
It was only fitting that Jadeja’s split second brilliance from the deep found Smith short of his crease.
Then it was 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.
It was Gill’s maiden Test half century in just his second match.
The Australian attack looked more insipid than ever and Rohit, playing his first game in nearly two months, did all the hard work for nearly two hours before failing to check an uppish drive that was pouched by the bowler.
But it was a day when India had two openers, who were both ready to pull the fast bowlers during their opening spells and dominate Lyon with precise footwork.
The first two sessions could be ideally described as fascinating with Australia getting 172 runs in just under 51 overs, largely due to some positive batting by Smith, Labuschagne and down the order Mitchell Starc (24 off 30 balls).
But Jadeja and Bumrah, especially with the second new ball, were on target..