Exciting Sydney draw leaves the series wide open
- India battled to a well-earned draw in the third Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground
- Steve Smith was named 'Player of the Match'
- The series remains 1-1 after Australia won in Adelaide and India in Melbourne
- The fourth Test will be played in Brisbane from January 15
Ashwin and Vihari script a dramatic turn around for India to draw in Sydney (Getty Images)
A battered and bruised Ravichandran Ashwin and Hanuma Vihari – the unlikely pair of batting survivors – resisted for 42.4 overs to take India to a well-deserved draw in the third Test at Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG). The series is still level 1-1 with the fourth and final Test to be played in Brisbane from 15th January.
It was a real fight for survival in the second innings for India after Australia set a target of 407. Rohit Sharma (52) played well, but got out at the end of the fourth day to leave India vulnerable. However, a battling Rishabh Pant (97) came out all guns firing on the fifth day after a circumspect start. He gave a chance to the Indians as the target whittled to under-200. Cheteshwar Pujara (77) played a typical dodgy innings and the duo added 148 runs for the third wicket to send jitters in the Australian camp.
However, the two departed within nine overs of each other and India were staring at a loss especially with the mounting injuries. Ravindra Jadeja had a broken thumb and was prepared to bat only if necessary. Their last recognised batsman Hanuma Vihari had a hamstring tear and couldn’t even run singles. Credit to Vihari (23*) and Ashwin (39*), who fought adverse conditions and put their bodies in line to earn a highly creditable draw.
Going back to day one, Australia scored 338 in their first innings after electing to bat first. It was an innings built around Steve Smith (131) and Marnus Labuschagne (91), although Australia’s middle-order failed to rise to the occasion. Ravindra Jadeja (4/62) was the bowling star for India.
The visitors then stuttered their way to 240 all out and thereby conceded a crucial 98-run lead to Australia in their first innings. Shubman Gill and Cheteshwar Pujara scored exact 50s although most others got starts but failed to capitalise. Pat Cummins (4/29) was brilliant with the ball for Australia.
India suffered body blows in their first innings, as Rishabh Pant and Ravindra Jadeja were injured while playing short balls. Australia piled 312/6d in their second knock with Smith (81) and Labuschagne (73) once again among the runs. Cameron Green (84) played a strong knock at the rear end to hasten the declaration. With just four fit bowlers, India fought hard led by debutant Navdeep Saini (2/54). In the end, injuries kept pegging India back, but the resolute visitors made sure they came out of Sydney smiling.
This Test will be remembered for the way India fought through difficult conditions, injuries, racial abuses from the crowd and gave a chill to the hosts at one point. We can’t wait for the final Test in Brisbane to start!