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India's Shubman Gill celebrates after scoring his fourth Test century during the fifth and final Test against England at Dharamsala on Friday. Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: Shubman Gill could not put a foot wrong in 2023. He was in sublime form and could wake up from sleep to plunder runs at will.

But during the later half of the year, struck by dengue, the opener missed a few matches in the 50-over World Cup and was not able to find his touch. Complicating his woes was the shift in the batting position. After scoring 2,154 runs in 48 matches across all formats, that includes a double century in One Day Internationals and a century in Twenty20, as an opener, the **-year-old moved down the order to No 3 in Tests and could not find his feat immediately.

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This series has been a revelation and with the Himalayan range at the backdrop, Gill has peaked at the right time to justify his prodigious talents.

Positive approach

He was severe on England great James Anderson, stepping out to hit a six over the pacer’s head to clearly show his intent early on the second day of the fifth and final Test on Friday. The Punjab right-hander looked a lot more positive during his second century in this year. His 104 in the second innings of the second Test at Visakhapatnam must have eased his nerves and the 91 he scored in Rajkot, also in the second innings, showed that Gill is settling down in his new role.

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Indian captain Rohit Sharma plays a pull during his 103 against England at Dharamsala. Image Credit: AFP

Skipper Rohit Sharma also scored his second century of the series on Friday, to take India to 473 for eight for a lead of 255 in match that will have little impact on the series. Each of India’s top five batters, including debutant Devdutt Padikkal, managed 50-plus scores.

With his father watching, Gill’s 110 at Dharamsala was punctuated with some stunning shots and he was particularly severe on off-spinner Shoaib Bashir.

Putting Anderson under pressure

“This was my father’s vision, he would be proud of my performance today,” Gill told the broadcasters after the end of the day’s play. “The ball wasn’t doing much at the start and instinctively I wanted to put Anderson under pressure.”

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England skipper Ben Stokes claimed a wicket with his first ball in eight months and a knee surgery last November, leaving Rohit clueless that left the Indian skipper late to hit the top of the off-stump, while Anderson inched closer to his 700th Test wicket after having the last laugh against Gill. The England pacer has 699 Test wickets to his tally.

“I think I missed out on a big one,” the No 3 batter said. “Even the ball that I got out to, I could not sight it properly. Apart from that, I’m feeling good, and hopefully I’ll be able to convert these starts into big ones.”

The collapse England wanted did not materialise as Sarfaraz Khan (56) counter-attacked.

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England pacer James Anderson celebrates the wicket of Gill during the second day. The dismissal took his tally to 699 wickets in Tests. Image Credit: AFP

The 26-year-old played an audacious ramp shot against Mark Wood and pulled the fast bowler for a six en route to his third fifty of his debut series.

Three-wicket burst

Padikkal (65) hit Bashir for a six to bring up his fifty before the off-spinner produced a three-wicket burst.

Sarfaraz perished in the slip, Padikkal lost his off-stump and Dhruv Jurel holed out in the deep. Bashir finished with figures of 4-170.

Tom Hartley joined the party removing Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin in the same over.

Kuldeep Yadav (27) and Jasprit Bumrah (19) have raised 45 useful runs for the unbroken ninth wicket and they will resume on Saturday hoping to take India past the 500-mark.

- With inputs from agencies