With India taking on Australia in the 3rd Test of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, one thing that had been conspicuous in its absence has made a return to the middle. Aussie captain Tim Paine had promised that as the series heats up and tensions between the sides grow - especially now with all the talk around the cancellation of the 4th Test in Brisbane - the Test banter that has become so famous will make a comeback. Paine promised and Marnus Labuschagne has delivered.
After his dazzling display with the bat, a tired Marnus Labuschagne made the journey back to the middle just some 35-odd overs after he had left the pitch. Hoping to get some easy wickets, Labuschagne went back to the one Test match quirk that has come to be so symbolic of any India vs Australia Test - banter. Far from the hard sledging that was prevalent back in the days, Labuschagne had quite an innocent question for young Indian opener Shubman Gill. The Aussie batsman was overheard on the stump mic asking Gill who his favourite batsman was.
Playing just his second Test series, Gill too, seemed cheerful, replying with "I'll tell you after". With Gill not rising to the bait, Labuschagne can also be heard making his own guess about who Gill's favourite batsman was, offering up the Master Blaster Sachin Tendulkar. Incidentally, Gill is rumoured to be dating Tendulkar's daughter, Sara Tendulkar. Labuschagne also mentionied Indian captain Virat Kohli as his two options. There hasn't been a reply yet but the sledging is expected to heat up the Sydney contest further.
At Tea on Day 2, Australia were bowled out on 338 before Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill played out a few overs. This comes courtesy of the rejuvenated Steve Smith and his mentee Marnus Labuschagne who, together, put up 222 of the 338 for the Aussies. Labuschagne's wicket at the hands of Ravindra Jadeja in the 71st over considerable slowed things down for Australia and started off a batting collapse that ended once again, with some sheer brilliance by Jadeja. The seven players that came after Labuschagne, including captain Tim Paine, put together just 39 runs.
In the midst of this sad display, Steve Smith took it upon himself to help his team and remind the world why he is one of the GOATs of the game. Batting with a strike rate of almost 58, Smith looked unstoppable as he made 16 boundaries to reach his first century in almost a year and a half - his last century came against England in September 2019 during the famous Ashes series. Smith's masterful innings was brought to an end by some excellent field work by Ravindra Jadeja who ended the 1st innings with figures of 62-4 from 18 overs.
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