Vihari, Ashwin pull off memorable draw in Sydney

India battle 97 overs on Day 5 of third Test

Vihari, Ashwin pull off memorable draw in Sydney

Ajinkya Rahane and Ravichandran Ashwin celebrate in Sydney. AP/PTI

Sydney, January 11

The injury-ravaged Indian cricket team, battered by top-class Australian bowlers and served abuse by the home team’s fans from the stands, battled for 97 overs on the last day of the third Test to secure a memorable draw.

Set an improbable 407 for victory, India’s more realistic task was to bat the whole day to earn a draw. This too seemed unlikely on a worn-out final day wicket, against the world’s best fast bowling attack. Yet, India managed to hold out, ending up with 334/5, losing only three wickets in the day’s play. The series is level at 1-1 with one match to play, beginning in Brisbane on Friday.

India had several heroes today: The gritty Cheteshwar Pujara played 205 balls for 77 runs, and Rishabh Pant raised visions of a win by blasting 97 off 118 balls. But the pride of place must go to Hanuma Vihari and Ravichandran Ashwin, who took blows to the body and defied the Australians for over 42 overs during an unbeaten partnership of 62 runs. Vihari, hobbled by a hamstring injury, made 23 off 161 deliveries, and Ashwin, who was struck on the body several times by short balls, made 39 from 128 balls.

India batted 131 overs in the innings, the first time since 2002 they lasted over 100 overs in the fourth innings of a Test. Captain Ajinkya Rahane said, “This is as good as winning a Test match. When you come abroad and play a match like this, it is really special.” — TNS/Agencies

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