Defiant India forces a draw in tense 3rd Test vs Australia
Publish- January 11, 2021, 02:34 PM
AP/UNB - AP/UNB
Update- January 11, 2021, 04:16 PM
India's Hanuma Vihari receives treatment to a leg injury during play on the final day of the third cricket test between India and Australia at the Sydney Cricket Ground, Sydney, Australia, Monday, Jan. 11, 2021. (Photo: AP)
A battered and bruised India lineup survived the full fifth day to force a draw in the third cricket Test against Australia and leave the series hinging on the final Test in Brisbane.
India resumed Monday at 98-2, needing a further 309 to win at the Sydney Cricket Ground, and finished 73 runs short on 334-5 despite finishing with only eight fit batters.
The India lineup was pushing for victory while an injured Rishabh Pant (97) and Cheteshwar Pujara (77) combined in a 148-run stand that put all the pressure back on Australia.
When Nathan Lyon removed Pant in the last over with the old ball and Josh Hazlewood bowled Pujara eight overs later to make the total 272-5, the hosts had the edge going into the last session.
But Hanuma Vihari, constrained by a hamstring strain he picked up early while running through for a single, and Ravichandran Ashwin stonewalled together for 258 deliveries in a partnership of 62 runs after India switched plans and pushed for a draw rather than risk chasing an unlikely win.
Ashwin, who was given out but successfully overturned the caught-behind decision, was hit on the body by a short ball and survived a dropped catch but finished unbeaten on 39 from 128 balls. Vihari faced 161 balls for his unbeaten 23, getting a late reprieve when he edged Mitchell Starc and Australia captain Tim Paine put down a catch behind the stumps.
The 23 from Vihara, Ashwin said, was just as good as making a century.
If the fourth day at the Sydney Cricket Ground was overshadowed by allegations of racist abuse from the crowd, the fifth was memorable for the courageous Indian innings to defy Test cricket’s leading bowling attack.
India’s stand-in captain Ajinkya Rahane said his squad’s approach was more about being resilient than focusing on runs, considering Pant had been sidelined for the entire fourth day with an elbow injury, Ravindra Jadeja had a fractured them and two bowlers were playing their first or second Test match.
“Our talk this morning was about showing character — fight to the end and not to think about results, so really happy the way we fought,” he said. “Special mention to Vihari and Ashwin. In the end the way they batted, showing that character, was really good to see.”
He also had praise for how Pant, who was promoted to bat at No. 5 despite his sore elbow, took on the Australian bowlers, giving India a glimmer of hope for victory.
Australia had the upper hand in the match after winning the toss, posting 338 and taking a first-innings lead by bowling India out for 244. Australia extended the lead to 406 before declaring at 312-6 in its second innings, giving India four sessions to either pursue a near record fourth-innings chase or settle for the draw.
Australia captain Tim Paine said he’d been confident of victory, given a bowling attack featuring Pat Cummins, Hazlewood, Starc and Lyon bowling on their home ground.
“It’s a tough one to swallow. Nathan tried everything, the quicks were awesome,” Paine said. “Just didn’t hold our catches — myself in particular.
“Our bowlers tried their absolute hearts out. Things just didn’t go our way.”
Steve Smith earned the player of the match award for his innings of 131 and 81, which helped set Australia on course for a declaration.
The series is tied 1-1 after lopsided wins — Australia by eight wickets in Adelaide, India by eight wickets in Melbourne — before the finale at the Gabba starting Friday.