India has made the biggest breakout in the SCG in more than 50 years, clinging to an exciting third test against Australia.
Hanuma Vihari and Ravichandran Ashwin hit 256 balls to save the game and allow India to finish 334-5. It left India’s score below the 407 required for victory, but its 131 effort to survive would have felt like a victory for tourists.
The draw capped one of India’s toughest efforts in memory, keeping the series level at 1-1 with the final test starting in Brisbane on Friday.
Vihari endured the last session with a hamstring injury while Ravindra Jadeja, who has a dislocated thumb, would be the next man to hit.
Australia was just to blame too, with Tim Paine seizing three chances, including a dive off Vihari’s David Warner with 8.1 overs to play.
The only other real opportunity came when, on the second ball of the final session, Ashwin was caught behind, only for a review to show that the ball had hit his arm.
Vihari hit 161 balls for 23, while Ashwin delivered 128 for his 39.
“I thought we would create enough chances to win the game and I thought we did,” Paine said. “It’s hard to swallow, particularly given my situation… we just can’t take our catches, me in particular.
“You have to take the blame for that, put it on and move to Brisbane.”
Since South Africa hit 117 eight-ball overs in 1964 to deny that Australia has faced more balls to survive in the SCG. And perhaps even more incredible was the fact that during the middle of Monday, it seemed that India could do the impossible and win the match thanks to some heroic acts by Rishabh Pant.
With an elbow injury, Pant scored 97 in the rear of 118 balls after India lost captain Ajinkya Rahane to Nathan Lyon in the second round of the day.
He was able to take advantage of his luck after Paine knocked him down with three and 56 on the opponent. The aggressive wicketkeeper-hitter hit three sixes and another 12 limits on his hit, regularly knocking Lyon to the ground.
At one point he hit the tweaker for an inside-out six over cover, before clearing Pat Cummins and the long string on the next ball. He came as part of a 148-run position with Cheteshwar Pujara, who held one end in his typical purposeful style while Pant exploded at the other.
And for a moment, Australia must have seen flashes of Ben Stokes at Headingley in 2019. But in an instant the game changed again.
Heading into his third century of testing, Pant tried again to take Lyon (2-114) to the ground, but this time only managed to fool Pat Cummins in the ravine.
Hazlewood (2-39) landed another hit earlier before tea, with a ball that drifted away from Pujara and ripped his stump off at 77. That coincided with Vihari suffering his hamstring injury early when he completed a single. fast, forcing India to shut up. shop with Australia feeling a real openness.
From there, India scored just 62 more of the remaining 42.4 overs, but crucially lost no more ground to save the game.
“It was about character,” Rahane said. “The fight to the end. Really happy with the way we fight in this game. “
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism