Australia Draw with 480 and 175 (Head 90, Liebschen 63*) for 2 Dec. India 571 (Kohli 186, Gill 128, Axar 79, Murphy 3-113, Lyon 3-151)
It was a day of some triumph for Head and Libeschen. Labuschagne began the series as a key batsman if Australia were to succeed, failing to score a fifty in the first three although he made desperate changes to his game to succeed. Heads brought question marks over his game against spin – even in his own team, which had not played him in a Test before.
Head got a starting spot thanks to David Warner’s injury and eased their potentially difficult chase at Indore. In the first innings, both Head and Leboschgan were out on a pitch designed for the batsmen. In the second innings, they kept their heads down and both scored 50 runs for the first time in the series.
Conditions became progressively more difficult as the Test progressed, but the pitch was too slow to result in any real wickets. Control percentage went from 90.3 in the first inning to 90.7 in the second to 86.8 in the third. Generally, tests start with these third innings numbers and gradually become difficult.
No matter what, funny things can happen when you’re trying to save a test. Apart from this, Usman Khawaja, the highest run scorer for Australia in the series, had injured himself and was going to bat only if absolutely necessary. Even after Kuhneman collapsed earlier in the day, Head and Leboschgen made sure that was not the case.
Head also ensured that the runs came quickly, taking Australia to level and then ending India’s lead. Liebeschen was in no rush: he just wanted to enjoy his time in the sun. The closest India came to getting him out was when Ravindra Jadeja and Ashwin found an inside edge, but Jadeja had no short leg at all, and Ashwin no backward short leg.
Until the last session began, the only matter of interest was if Liebschen reached one hundred. That interest faded quickly as he continued to tap the half-volleys, adding just seven to his 56 at tea. Shibman Gill and Cheteshwar Pujara also got a bowl, and the teams shook hands as soon as they could: 17.5 overs to go.
At the time, Australia had announced that India would be given 15 overs to bat, when the sides could agree to end the Test in a draw. It was as emphatic a statement as against a Test pitch.