Contrasting fifties from Rishabh Pant and Cheteshwar Pujara, followed by an exemplary display of grit and determination by Hanuma Vihari and Ravichandran Ashwin helped the Indian cricket team pull off a draw for the ages against Australia in the third Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG).
Just when most thought that India were down and out, the Ajinkya Rahane-led side showed their true character. Despite having their backs on the wall for the majority of the Sydney Test, the visitors kept the Australians at bay on the fifth day and managed to save the third Test.
Starting Day 5 on 98/2 and needing another 309 runs to script a historic win, Team India skipper Rahane fell just in the second over of the day. That is when most thought that Team India would succumb to the pressure. But Rishabh Pant had other plans. The southpaw, who was promoted up the order, swung the game in the visitors' favour. He initially spent some time in the middle but took Nathan Lyon to the cleaners once he got his eye in. Pant went on to make 97 off just 118 balls consisting of 3 sixes and 12 fours. That knock brought his team back in the game and also made India believe that they can go all the way and win it. An archetypal Rishabh Pant with a classic, ‘Live by the sword, die by the sword.’ Remember, Pant was hit on the elbow in the first innings and couldn’t keep wickets after that.
The century wasn't to be. But it is easily Pant's best test innings. You can't fault him the shot because it was many of those that offered a glimmer of victory when none believed it was possible.— Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha) January 11, 2021
Once the wicketkeeper-batsman was dismissed, Pujara too followed suit. Since Ravindra Jadeja too had a broken thumb, Ashwin walked out to face the Australian attack. He along with Vihari faced 258 balls, batting for almost 4 hours, and helped India earn a memorable draw at the SCG.
Hanuma Vihari, earlier on, had pulled his hamstring while trying to sneak a run with Pujara. With the help of some strappings and pain killers, he put his mind over the body and stonewalled what is supposed to be the best bowling attack in the modern-day. Team India then played for a draw.
Vihari has been like Bahubali in battling pain and injury to play out almost 4 hours— Cricketwallah (@cricketwallah) January 11, 2021
Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood were handed the second new ball and they made sure to let the Indians know that they are still in the game. The duo peppered Vihari and Ashwin with some nasty stuff and created opportunities that weren’t grabbed. To sum it all up, the Indians faced racism, criticism, sledging, and injuries but still managed to pull off what feels like a win.
Meanwhile, Twitter showered praise as Team India registered a stunning draw at the SCG.
Loved the fight and determination of India all day today. Starting with Pant and Pujara, and then for Vihari and Ashwin to withstand Australia and look largely in control for most of the day was very impressive. Can't wait for Brisbane now. #AUSvIND— Ricky Ponting AO (@RickyPonting) January 11, 2021
Even a half-strength, battled, bruised, injured, ridiculed, abused, bio-bubble fatigued India is difficult for a full strength Australia to beat at home. No praise high enough for this herculean effort. Told you this is a damn good team. Cherish it.— Wasim Jaffer (@WasimJaffer14) January 11, 2021
What a remarkable performance by Team India. Once again great show of resilience under grave provocation, spate of injuries and several key players missing. Bravo! #AUSvsIND— VVS Laxman (@VVSLaxman281) January 11, 2021
Great effort India to draw the Test, tremendous courage and grit shown by the guys especially Pujara, Pant, Vihari and Ash— Mohammad Kaif (@MohammadKaif) January 11, 2021
Am standing and applauding Vihari & Ashwin. This has been one of the most spectacular, brave and resilient partnerships I’ve had the privilege of watching 🙌 #RealSteel #AUSvIND @Hanumavihari @ashwinravi99 pic.twitter.com/7KrfrtVwxf— Gaurav Kapur (@gauravkapur) January 11, 2021
What a test...India have shown remarkable resilience and fight to keep the series very much alive! #AUSvIND— Tom Moody (@TomMoodyCricket) January 11, 2021
Vihari-Ashwin pull of heist. Vihari with a career saving innings has shown his class. Losing just 3 wkts on the fifth day speaks volumes. Take a bow, champs. This is one of the top most draws technically on par with a few overseas victories #DoddaMathu #AUSvIND— ದೊಡ್ಡ ಗಣೇಶ್ | Dodda Ganesh (@doddaganesha) January 11, 2021
Hats of to both @Hanumavihari and @ashwinravi99 to draw the test! A lot has to be said about vihari for his grit and determination even after being injured! This knock is as good as any hundred in test cricket! Ashwin always had the talent to be a main allrounder! #AUSvsIND— Kris Srikkanth (@KrisSrikkanth) January 11, 2021
Feature image courtesy: AFP / Saeed Khan