A brilliant batting partnership between tailenders Shardul Thakur and Washington Sundar on Sunday ensured that India’s hope remains alive in the fourth and final Test against Australia at The Gabba.

On Day 3, Thakur and Sundar embarked on a 123-run partnership for the seventh wicket to help India fall behind Australia by a small margin of just 33 runs.

Half of India’s batting had gone to the pavilion for 161 with Rohit Sharma’s 44 being the highest score among the top six batsmen.

India got all out for 336 in the first innings in response to Australia’s 369. The hosts ended the day at a score of 21/0, with openers David Warner (20) and Marcus Harris (1) set to resume fourth day’s play.

Earlier, Resuming the day at 62/2, India lost Cheteshwar Pujara and skipper Ajinkya Rahane in the morning session. Pujara was the first to go as he edged one to wicketkeeper Tim Paine off the bowling of Josh Hazlewood for 25 with the team’s score on 105.

Rahane followed, edging one to fourth slip off Mitchell Starc for 37 with the team score on 144.

Mayank Agarwal and Rishabh Pant added 17 more runs before Agarwal got out at team’s score of 161. Agarwal scored 38 runs, with the help of three fours and a six, in the 75 balls he faced during the course of his innings.

Pant (23) then shared a 25-run partnership with Sundar before he became the third scalp of Hazlewood who had the India wicketkeeper-batsman caught at gully by Cameron Green.

It was then that Thakur and Sundar stitched together the highest seventh-wicket partnership for India at The Gabba and brought the visitors right into the match. Both batted with great grit and determination as they didn’t allow Australia to take any further wickets and also made sure that the runs kept coming for India at a decent rate.

Thakur scored 67 runs, with the help of nine boundaries and two sixes during the course of his innings, before he got out bowled by Pat Cummins in the final session. Sundar then registered the highest individual score for a debutant batting at number seven in Australia as he scored valuable 62 runs before getting out caught at gully.

Kapil Dev and Manoj Prabhakar had earlier held the record of the highest seventh-wicket partnership for India in Brisbane, scoring 58 runs in 1991.

“Outstanding application and belief by Washington Sundar and Shardul Thakur. This is what Test cricket is all about. Washy top composure on debut and tula parat maanla re Thakur,” tweeted regular skipper Virat Kohli while praising the duo.

Mohammed Siraj, Navdeep Saini and debutant T Natajan then contributed with 13, five and 1 respectively as India got all out for 336.

For Australia, Hazlewood was the pick of the bowlers as he scalped five wickets while conceding 57 runs. Cummins and Starc picked two wickets each while off-spinner Nathan Lyon, playing his 100th Test, scalped one wicket.

Australia then batted for six overs before the Stumps as they swelled their lead to over 50 with two days play still remaining in the match.

Brief scores: Australia 21/0 (David Warner 20*, Marcus Harris 1*, Washington Sundar 0/3) & 369 all out; India 336 all out (Shardul Thakur 67, Washington Sundar 62; Josh Hazlewood 5/57)

With IANS inputs