Hanuma Vihari and Ravichandran Ashwin, on Monday, came up with stunning efforts with the bat to help India draw the third Test against Australia at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG). India were staring down the barrel when Ashwin joined Vihari in the middle in the second session. With more than 40 overs left to play, India were on the backfoot.
But Ashwin and Vihari defied all the odds and batted out of their skins to save the Test for India. Both the batsmen overcame pain barriers to save the game. Ashwin was hit on his rib cage by Pat Cummins while Vihari could not even run properly because of a hamstring injury. The injuries, however, did not deter them as they came up with stunning efforts.
Vihari faced 161 balls for his 23 runs while Ashwin faced 128 balls for 39 runs to earn Team India one of their most memorable wins. Earlier, India started day five on 98 for 2 in pursuit of 407 and could add only four more runs to their overnight score before skipper Ajinkya Rahane was sent back by Nathan Lyon.
In the second session, the visitors lost well-set Rishabh Pant (97) and Cheteshwar Pujara (77) in quick succession before Vihari and Ashwin joined hands to save the game for India. Earlier in the game, Australia scored 338 in their first innings with the likes of Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne starring with the bat. Smith scored 131 runs while Labuschagne scored 91.
Debutant Will Pucovski scored a fifty too. In the second innings, the hosts had scored 312 for 6 (declared) with Smith (81) and Labuschagne (73) making the difference with the bat again. India, on the other hand, had scored 244 in their first innings.
Here’s what Ajinkya Rahane said after the game:
Speaking at the end of the game, India skipper Ajinkya Rahane expressed his delight over the way the team fought not only on the fifth day but throughout the Test. He was quick to highlight the bowlers’ efforts in bundling out Australia for 338 in the first innings from a strong position. He also praised Pant, Vihari and Ashwin for their batting displays.
“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 also throughout the game, even in the first innings when Australia were 200 for 2 and getting them all out for 338 was really good,” said Ajinkya Rahane.
“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,” he added.
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