Ahmedabad: Australia’s Cameron Green credited the maiden century of his international career to his seasoned partner at the crease after Friday’s marathon 208-run stand with Usman Khawaja against India.
Green hit 114 in his fifth-wicket partnership with Khawaja, who made 180 on a good batting pitch in Ahmedabad on day two of the fourth and final Test.
The middle-order batsman, who returned to the team for the third Test after recovering from a finger injury, took the attack to the opposition but credited Khawaja for his hard grind.
“He’s an experienced head that’s played Test cricket for more than 10 years now, he’s so valuable for guys like myself and a few of the young guys in the team,” Green said.
“I’m trying to learn as much as I can off him, and luckily enough there are a lot of guys in the change rooms like that.”
Green, standing tall at 1.98m (6 feet and 6 inches), reached his ton soon after lunch with a boundary, earning a hug from Khawaja.
“It’s an incredibly tough game, and when you get moments like that you really cherish them,” said Green.
He finally fell to off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, attempting a sweep that saw him caught behind after the ball grazed his glove.
Ashwin heaped praise on the 23-year-old up-and-comer, who made his Test debut against India in Adelaide in 2020.
“I hope you tuned into the IPL auction, it just tells you how the Indian cricketing fraternity rates Cameron Green,” Ashwin said, referring to Green’s $2.11 million contract with the Mumbai Indians last year.
Good batting sense
“I think he’s a fantastic player. Just the raw materials for a person as tall as him, lovely levers, good batting sense, can bowl and really hit the deck well, moves pretty well in the field.”
Khawaja hit a masterful 180 to hand Australia the advantage with a challenging first innings total of 480. Khawaja’s mammoth knock off 422 balls saw a 208-run fifth-wicket partnership with Green, before Australia were bowled out in the final session on day two in Ahmedabad.
“It was really special, obviously over the lunch break that 40 minutes felt like an hour forty,” Green said of finishing the first session five short of his ton.
Off-spinner Ashwin led the Indian attack, claiming six wickets on a pitch still looking good for batting at the world’s biggest cricket stadium. India reached 36 for no loss at stumps, still trailing the tourists by 444 runs.
Skipper Rohit Sharma, on 17, and Shubman Gill, on 18, looked positive and attacked the Australian spinners, who bowled five of the 10 overs before close of play.
The opening pair smashed four boundaries between them including a big six by Gill off senior Australia spinner Nathan Lyon.
Khawaja stood out in his marathon knock, which ended on the first ball after tea when Axar Patel trapped the left-hander lbw, a decision that was denied by the on-field umpire but successfully reviewed by India.
Todd Murphy (41) and Lyon (34) kept the Indian bowlers frustrated in a 70-run stand for the ninth wicket before Ashwin broke through for his 32nd five-wicket haul in Tests.
Ashwin trapped Murphy lbw before dismissing Lyon to wrap up the innings.
In what has been a low-scoring series, giant all-rounder Green got his first international hundred with a boundary in the second session and was greeted with a hug from Khawaja.
“You feel more like a Test cricketer when you’ve got that monkey off your back,” Green, playing his 20th Test for Australia, said of the hundred.
‘Good bag of wickets’
Ashwin snared two wickets in one over after a wicketless first session for the hosts.
He broke the Khawaja-Green stand — Australia’s highest Test partnership in India since 1979 — after he got Green caught behind for 114 off a delivery sliding down the leg side.
“You feel good when you return with a good bag of wickets. I will go to bed tonight early and also a bit happier,” Ashwin told reporters.
Khawaja, who struck his first Indian Test ton on day one and 14th overall, kept up the grind to break the Australian record for longest Test innings in India.
The previous record was Graham Yallop’s 392-ball knock in Kolkata, also in 1979.
Khawaja resumed on his overnight 104 and took charge after Australia elected to bat in their bid to square the series 2-2.
Secure berth in final
The hosts need a win to clinch the four-match series and secure a berth in the World Test Championship final in June at The Oval.
Steve Smith is captaining Australia in the absence of regular Test skipper Pat Cummins.
Australia’s players wore black armbands on Friday after it was announced that Cummins’ mother had died.