Ind vs Aus 3rd Test ends in draw: Gritty India win hearts with solid performance at SCG

Ind vs Aus 3rd Test ends in draw: A resolute Ravichandran Ashwin and a hamstrung Hanuma Vihari battled pain and a hostile Australian bowling attack while displaying the largely extinct art of Test-saving batsmanship to snatch a remarkable draw for India after Rishabh Pant raised visions of an improbable win here on Monday.

Chasing a herculean target of 407, Pant (97 off 118 balls) and the ever-steady Cheteshwar Pujara (77 off 205 balls) produced an amazing 148-run stand before India were forced to down the shutters finishing on 334 for 5 in 131 overs when players shook hands.

The series stands at 1-1 going into the fourth Test in Brisbane but an Indian team which has turned into a ‘mini-hospital’ would be walking away with a lot of pride. They put up a proper fight in adverse circumstances already soured by racist chants and abuses from the crowd here during the course of the game.

Pant’s innings will be remembered for a long time but none can forget that Ashwin (39 no, 128 balls) and Vihari (23 off 161 balls) put their bodies on line to save a game which could have been lost in a jiffy after their two best batsmen were gone on the day.

Pat Cummins (26-6-72-1), Josh Hazlewood (26-12-39-2), Mitchell Starc (22-6-66-0) and Nathan Lyon (46-17-114-2) threw everything they had, peppering them with short balls, hitting the patches with a few jumping from the spot.

The duo, in 42.4 overs, scrapped their way for a 62-run stand, which certainly would have made Rahul Dravid proud on his 48th birthday.

Vihari hobbled with a torn hamstring but defended dourly, Ashwin got hit on the ribs but carried on manfully while also engaging in some chatter with Tim Paine and close-in fielders.

Catches landed in no man’s land and that was the slice of luck they needed. When Marnus Labuschagne was brought in the 112th over, one knew that they had done their job.

The great Neville Cardus had once said “Scoreboard is an ass” and many years down the line, it probably won’t highlight what Vihari and Ashwin endured and what they did for the team.

The dressing room will however always know that and respect them for the bruised ribs and torn hamstring.

Perhaps, it was the was the best way to honour the brilliance of Pant and the assuredness of Pujara. So much so that Ravindra Jadeja, with his broken thumb, was all gloved up and ready to go in if need be.

There was method to madness in Pant’s exhilarating innings during which he hit 12 fours and three sixes off 118 balls. His ‘cat and mouse’ game with the world’s best off-spinner Nathan Lyon was one for the ages.

But it was Lyon, who had the last laugh when Pant’s desperation to get to the three-figure mark before the second new ball saw him try to hit the spinner against the turn.

The result would have horrified his partner Pujara, who looked far more purposeful during his 205-ball knock.

He got a beauty from Josh Hazlewood and was bowled in the manner he has often been – playing inside the line to a delivery that moves a shade after pitching.

Pant was promoted above Vihari as playing the surviving game wouldn’t have helped on this track at least in the first session and also the left-right combination needed to be in place.

Pant defended for the first 35 odd balls but then, suddenly in a couple of overs from Lyon, hit him over long on for a six and three fours using his feet to perfection.

Tim Paine then decided to change Lyon’s end from Randwick to Paddington but the result was two more sixes — one over long-off and other over long-on.

This sudden attack did force Paine to again change his end back to ‘Randwick’. Pujara also seemed to gain in confidence and played that whip off mid-wicket to further torment the off-spinner.

The left-hander, who hit eight fours and three sixes, was also severe on Mitchell Starc, creaming him through covers on a number of occasions and jabbing a short ball through point.

He was a bit lucky on two occasions with Paine dropping sharp chances off Lyon.

But what will stay on for a long time was the assured footwork and strategy against the off-spinner to reach the pitch of the deliveries.

On most occasions, he just came down the track to smother the spin and disturb Lyon’s natural length.

There was a point in time just before lunch when Lyon had as many as five fielders posted at various boundary points for a lofted shot, a departure from his usual attacking field.

Knowing that the second new ball will be due in the second session, Pant smashed four boundaries in no time which also gave Pujara confidence to play his strokes and he too brought out the pull-shot out of his repertoire.

His dismissal trying to hit against the turn, once again changed the complexion even though Pujara’s new found confidence in shot-making did fetch him a few runs.

Once he was gone, Vihari, with a pulled hamstring and Ashwin, had no option but to go for a draw and they did it with a commendable effort.

India and Australia are still level at 1-1, which makes the final Test at Gabba very crucial. The fourth Test starts from January 14 in Brisbane.

Ind vs Aus 3rd Test, Day 5 LIVE:

13:00: And ITS A DRAW

Ajinkya Rahane | India captain: Our talk coming this morning was to show character and fight till the end. Not to think about the result. Really happy with the way we fought especially today but throughout the game, even in the first innings when Australia were 200 for 2 and getting them all out for 338 was really good. There are few areas we can improve on but special mention to Vihari and Ashwin. The way they batted in the end and showed character was really good to see. Credit to him (Pant). We made that strategy but in the end, it is all about the player executing the plan.

Tim Paine | Australia captain: I thought we created enough chances to win the game, this one’s a tough to swallo. Our bowlers were superb, Lyon bowled well. Just that we (especially me) didn’t hold onto our catches. Looking forward to Brisbane. We didn’t play our best in the last two games, but we were somewhat good with the bat in this Test. There were a few positives for us, our bowlers created plenty of chances. Today was a whole-hearted effort from the boys, just that things didn’t go our way. I think having two young kids (Pucovski and Green) play Test cricket, it’s a great thing as they were sensational. I thought Green was fantastic yesterday.

Steve Smith, Player of the Match: India fought really hard. Our bowlers kept coming and coming, did their hardest today. On day three or four, we felt that a few kept low, few that bounced a bit more. But there was not much of it today. They fought really hard. Always means a lot when you score a hundred for your country. To be able to do that here on my home ground is pretty special. Doesn’t mean a lot now as we didn’t win the game. (We’ll) move on now to Brisbane, we have a very good record there. Looking forward to playing there in a few days time. Wanted to be a little bit more aggressive at times, went up and through the gears throughout my innings, absorbed the pressure when needed to. Not too much else, just watched the ball hard and concentrated well. Nice to spend some time.

12:05: 123rd over: India 319-5 (Vihari 15, Ashwin 33) Target 407; 9 overs remaining – Starc replaces Cummins. The left-armer has bowled just 17 overs, compared to Hazlewood’s 24 and Cummins’ 26.

11:59: Australia will be drawing confidence from this Michael Clarke’s performance.

11:47: Hanuma Vihari 7 of 118, Rishabh Pant 97 of 118. Both equally brilliant innings. — Both equally precious. 13 overs to go.

11:42: 118th over: India 305-5 (Vihari 7, Ashwin 28) Target 407; 14 overs remaining – Lyon returns to the attack for one final shove.


11:27: 115th over: India 300-5 (Vihari 7, Ashwin 24) Target 407; 17 overs remaining – Hazlewood continues to bowl at lengths, short, cutters and even a yorker. Vihari, however, managing to evade LBW and even accept a single after a long run of declining any advance to the score.

11:05: 110th over: India 299-5 (Vihari 6, Ashwin 24) Target 407; 22 overs remaining – Lyon starts over, but then moves around the wicket, but Ashwin and his dead bat is equal to it. Wade, Labuschagne and co are making plenty of noise under the batsman’s nose.

10:59: 108th over: India 299-5 (Vihari 6, Ashwin 24) Target 407; 24 overs remaining – Ashwin, with three Australians surrounding him, defends capably against Lyon and even picks up four for his troubles. India are just looking to go for a draw now.

10:53: 107th over: India 291-5 (Vihari 6, Ashwin 16) Target 407; 25 overs remaining – Starc resumes his barrage at Ashwin, but it lasts only two balls before the strike is rotated. India’s makeshift No.7 as acquitted himself superbly so far.

10:41: 104th over: India 289-5 (Vihari 5, Ashwin 15) Target 407; 28 overs remaining – Ashwin leans forward like a praying mantis and calmly pushes away a maiden that lacked wit from batter or bowler. Australia need to find something to raise the tempo, and soon.

10:29: The last time India batted out 100+ overs in the 4th innings of any Test was at Lord’s in 2002 (109.4 overs).

10:26: 100th over: India 284-5 (Vihari 4, Ashwin 11) Target 407 / 32 overs remaining – Australia’s tactics are not sophisticated – Hazlewood is bowling to four catchers on the leg-side and hammering the ball into the pitch and towards Ashwin’s tenderised flesh.

10:15: 8th over: India 282-5 (Vihari 4, Ashwin 9) Target 407 – At Tea Australia’s analysts have clearly told their pacemen to go upstairs to Ashwin. Hazlewood is the latest to send down a rising missile that clips Ashwin’s right shoulder, followed up by one that doesn’t get up much and smashes him in the sternum.

Tea – India 280-5 chasing 407 with 36 overs remaining

96th over: India 280-5 (Vihari 4, Ashwin 7) Target 407 – Ashwin safely deals with four Lyon deliveries so that prompts the bowler to come around the wicket and Paine to bring in four chattering catchers around the bat. The result is a streaky edge away for a single. Vihari keeps out the final delivery and “Tea” is called. The end of an engrossing session in what has been a fascinating day. 36 overs remain, all four results are still in play.

9:36: 94th over: India 279-5 (Vihari 4, Ashwin 6) Target 407 – Ashwin plays Lyon watchfully, plonking his front foot down the pitch and bringing his bat down alongside it, with no gap for the bowler to penetrate. One thick edge was a regulation single, but Vihari is far from regulation fitness.

9:12: WICKET!!! Hazlewood to Pujara, out Bowled!!

Huge wicket! That’s really huge! And Hazlewood knows its importance. He’s pumped and so are the Aussies. It’s a length delivery around off and it keeps low as well.

8:49: This is how Bharat Army celebrated Rishabh Pant

 

Drinks are on the field now. Another exciting passage of play. India need 145 to win. If this pair can get that to double figures things will get extremely interesting.

8:38: 82nd over: India 250-4 (Pujara 58, Vihari 0) A good sign from Vihari, as he comes onto the front foot to drive Hazlewood crisply, though it gets stopped at cover. A maiden in the end.

8:24: WICKET!!! Lyon to Pant, out Caught by Cummins!!

An anti-climax! And Lyon has the last laugh. The Australian offspinner lets out a loud roar.

India need 157 to win.

8:00: 72nd over: India 211-3 (Pujara 42, Pant 75) Lyon to start proceedings to Rishabh Pant, with that bat-pad in place on the offside. Pant skips immediately and drives a run to long-on. Some ODI batting. Pujara comes down as well and flicks away, and it’s a chance but a near-impossible one.

India need 189 runs to win.

7:11: Lunch – India 206 for 3, with 62 overs left and 201 to win

6:54: 68th over: India 202-3 (Pujara 37, Pant 73)

Rishabh Pant is on a rampage. If he gets going and does not throw away his wicket India have a fair chance of winning.

6:43: 64th over: India 192-3 (Pujara 32, Pant 68) Lyon to Pujara, who is looking to score once or twice but can’t beat the field with his nudges.

6:36: 62nd over: India 179-3 (Pujara 29, Pant 59) Pant pushes an early run to point from Lyon. Australia having to go some Plans B & C now.

6:18: 59th over: India 174-3 (Pujara 27, Pant 56)

Impressed with Pant’s consistent 25+ scores. For the next test at Gabba, I would play him purely as a batsman. Has a knack of putting pressure on bowlers & help the run rate move up quickly.

6:13: Fifty! Pant 50 from 64 balls

57th over: India 168-3 (Pujara 27, Pant 50) Lyon to Pant, who comes down the track and drives six over cover! Absolutely nailed that one, right out of the middle after getting right to the pitch, first ball of the over. Goodness me!

6:10: 56th over: India 155-3 (Pujara 27, Pant 37) Little milestones for India, they’ve batted through an hour and a half this morning and only lost one wicket. Their reward is to face Mitchell Starc. He starts off down the leg side, as is his style to start with, which usually means a perfect yorker isn’t far away. Not this time though: five balls that are all either leg stump or outside, then one that’s too wide outside off.

5:47: 52nd over: India 144-3 (Pujara 26, Pant 28) This is interesting, Labuschagne is getting a bowl. His part-time leg breaks. Paine perhaps hoping to tempt Pant into even more indiscretions. They’ve got enough in the bank to buy him out.

5:29: 47th over: India 116-3 (Pujara 22, Pant 5) Hazlewood to Pujara, the Indian batsman does what he does best, defend. Just like a wall. Has to play every ball of the over bar the bouncer.