A battered and bruised India lost only three wickets on the final day as they pulled off a stunning draw against Australia in the third Test in Sydney.
India, resuming on 98-2 and needing a further 309 runs to reach their victory target of 407, were eyeing a win when Rishabh Pant (97 off 118) and Cheteshwar Pujara (77 off 205) shared a fourth-wicket partnership of 148.
Australia regained the advantage after Pant and Pujara were dismissed by Nathan Lyon and Josh Hazlewood respectively to leave India on 272-5.
But Hanuma Vihari (23no off 161) – who was constrained by a hamstring strain he picked up while running – and Ravichandran Ashwin (39no off 128) thwarted Australia for 258 deliveries in a courageous partnership of 62 as the tourists achieved the draw, ending on 334-5.
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#TeamIndia ??#AUSvIND pic.twitter.com/hWtzSR8rlv
Vihari was handed a late reprieve when Australia captain Tim Paine put down a chance behind the stumps, one of three drops for Paine on the day, with the wicketkeeper also spilling Pant on three and 56.
Ravindra Jadeja was next on the list to bat, waiting in his protective kit in the pavilion despite his fractured thumb, but was not needed as India ensured the series remained all square heading into the final Test, now confirmed to take place in Brisbane, from January 15.
At one stage during Ashwin and Vihari’s stand, 41 deliveries passed without a run being scored – in stark contrast to when Pant was at the wicket, with the India wicketkeeper nailing 12 fours and three sixes in his enterprising knock.
Really proud of #TeamIndia!
Special mention to @RishabhPant17, @cheteshwar1, @ashwinravi99 and @Hanumavihari for the roles they’ve played brilliantly.
Any guesses in which dressing room the morale will be high? ?#OneTeamOneCause #AUSvIND pic.twitter.com/hG60Iy6Lva
The left-hander, who was a serious injury doubt on Saturday after taking a nasty blow to his elbow, fell three runs short of a third Test hundred when he was caught at backward point off-spinner Lyon.
Australia had taken the upper hand in the match after scoring 338 in their first innings and then dismissing India for 244.
Paine’s hosts extended the lead to 406 before declaring on 312-6 in their second innings but their hopes of ripping through India were thwarted.
The tourists will now head to The Gabba with a chance of repeating their 2-1 Test series triumph in Australia in 2018-2019 – although the hosts have not lost a Test at the Brisbane ground since 1988.
What they said…
India captain Ajinkya Rahane: “Our talk this morning was all about showing character, fight till the end and not thinking of the result. A special mention to Vihari and Ashwin for the way they batted and showed their character.”
Australia skipper Tim Paine: “We certainly created chances to win the game. We just did not hold our catches, myself in particular. We have to cop the blame for that, wear it, move on and look forward to Brisbane.”
Fourth Test in Brisbane confirmed
Earlier on day five in Sydney, it was announced India had agreed to travel to Brisbane for the fourth Test, ending a week of uncertainty around the match.
Reports the tourists were reluctant to travel to Queensland because of the level of quarantine they might have to endure had persisted throughout the third Test.
“The fourth Test will be at the Gabba, as planned,” Cricket Australia chief executive Nick Hockley Hockley told SEN Radio. “I had a call last night from the BCCI secretary and he confirmed we are good to travel to Brisbane on Tuesday. We are full steam ahead to play the fourth Test at the Gabba.”
The crowd at the 42,000-capacity Gabba will be capped at 50 per cent for the final match series.
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