|Third test, Sydney Cricket Ground (fifth day)|
|Australia 338 (Smith 131, Labuschagne 91) & 312-6 Dec (Vert 84, Smith 81)|
|Inde 244 (Cummins 4-29) And 334-5 (Pantalon 97, Pujara 77)|
|Draw; series level 1-1|
India showed an incredible challenge to beat the final day in a memorable draw with Australia in the Third Test and take an exciting streak in a decision.
The Tourists recovered in 98-2, chasing an unlikely 407 to win, and lost captain Ajinkya Rahane early on.
Rishabh Pant countered with a sublime 97 and Cheteshwar Pujara dug for 77 in an exciting second session in which it looked like India could even win the third highest round four pursuit in test history.
But after the two fell before tea to leave Australia needing five wickets in the last session, Hanuma Vihari and Ravichandran Ashwin fought superbly to survive 256 balls to lead India to 334-5. at the close.
Vihari’s unbeaten 23 on 161 balls were even more impressive considering he hit most of his innings with a hamstring injury, while Ashwin made 39 of 128 deliveries.
Australian captain Tim Paine lost three catches behind the stumps, while his fast bowlers and non-spinner Nathan Lyon worked hard.
The series remains at level 1-1 before the fourth and final test in Brisbane from January 15.
India, who were eliminated by 36 points in the first test loss, need only a draw to retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, while Australia have not lost to Gabba since 1988.
It was an exciting finale, but the third Test will also be remembered for racist abuse allegations against Indian players by crowd members at SCG.
The pants bring hope for the improbable
Given that Rahane fell in Lyon in the second session of the day, the fact that India seemed on track to run one of the greatest chases of all time in the second session pointed out what a special Knock Pant played.
He hadn’t kept the wicket since he was struck in the elbow by Pat Cummins on day three, but was promoted to number five and played his natural attacking game with aplomb to put the pressure back on Australia.
Paine missed a hold to take Pant out for three and he punished the error ruthlessly, trailing Lyon for a massive three sixes as he reached his third Test Fifty with just 64 balls.
He was again abandoned by Paine on 56 – also off Lyon – and continued to attack, leading himself to the edge of an astonishing century and India at 250-3 with plenty of time to score the other 157 needed. .
But in the last pass before the new ball, he jumped the field in Lyon and sliced at Cummins at the gully.
Pujara proved to be an excellent foil in a characteristic vigilance style, regularly accumulating 77 balls out of 205 before being played by a sublime performance from Josh Hazlewood.
Technical and mental defiance
Even after Pant’s fall, India still seemed determined to secure the victory, but began to switch sides after Vihari injured a hamstring while performing a quick single, a decision that was reinforced once that Pujara was sacked shortly thereafter.
That left India at 272-5, with 43.4 passing left in the day and several factors firmly in Australia’s favor.
Vihari was injured and out of shape, Ravindra Jadeja should have hit with a dislocated thumb if necessary and India’s tail is weak.
But Vihari and Ashwin, who has four centuries of testing, played a defensive masterclass to ward off Cummins, Hazlewood, Lyon and left-arm quick pitcher Mitchell Starc, while backup outfielder Sean Abbott also dropped Ashwin on the 15th.
With their chances of victory fading away, Matthew Wade and Paine in particular became increasingly vocal as they tried to fend off Vihari and Ashwin by dragging them, the stump mic picking up several barbed comments.
Yet the following after a trade with Ashwin, Paine lost Vihari’s advantage over Starc and, with it, Australia’s hopes of taking a 2-1 lead in the series, before deciding to shake hands on a draw with one more.
Paine takes the blame – reaction
Indian captain Ajinkya Rahane on BT Sport: “Our discussion this morning was about showing character and fighting to the end and not thinking about the outcome, so we’re really happy with the way we fought.
“Special mention to Vihari and Ashwin at the end showing this character – it was really great to see
“Thanks to Pant. We promoted it because it was that left-right combination in the middle and it worked. “
Australian captain Tim Paine on BT Sport: “We were confident enough to force the win with our offense, we created enough chances all day so it’s hard to swallow, especially for me.
“I’ll put the blame for this, move on and look forward to Brisbane.
“It was a wholehearted effort on the boys’ part and things just didn’t go our way.