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In a defiance to be remembered for the ages, India put up a brave show with the bat on Day 5 and drew the third Test against Australia in Sydney on Monday.
While Rishabh Pant scored a brilliant 97, Cheteshwar Pujara scored a solid 77 off 205 balls before Hanuma Vihari, battling an injury, and R Ashwin’s 259-ball rearguard denied Australia a win at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
India resumed the Day’s play at 98/2, needing 309 runs more to win, and lost skipper Ajinkya Rahane in the second over of the final day. Pant, who was hit on his arm in the first innings, came out to bat to join Pujara.
Australia had a chance to scalp the second wicket of the morning but Tim Paine could not hold on to a catch and Pant got a life. While the Indian wicketkeeper was watchful and had scored 5 runs in 34 balls he faced since his arrival in the middle, the left-hander shifted gears, targeting Lyon, hitting the Australian off-spinner for three fours and a six in the course of his two overs.
In the 53rd over, the Pujara-Pant pair completed a fifty-run stand as India moved past 150.
Four overs later, Pant once again went after Lyon, creaming two sixes to complete his first fifty of the series. While Pant got another reprieve, he continued to attack the Australian bowlers as he and Pujara completed a 100-run partnership to take India to 206/3 at lunch.
Pujara, who was batting on 41 after the end of the first session on Day 5, then completed his 6000 Test runs and went on to bring up his second fifty of the match soon after the play resumed in the second session. Meanwhile, Pant continued his cash in on every scoring opportunity, pushing India past 250.
However, Australia managed to break the 148-run stand between Pujara and Pant as Lyon finally managed to dismiss Pant after the Indian left-hander had scored a fantastic 97. While Pujara continued his solid work with the bat, Josh Hazlewood broke through Pujara’s defence and got the right-hander out after he had scored a fighting 205-ball 77.
Hanuma Vihari, who had walked out to bat after Pant’s dismissal, and R Ashwin joined forces in the 89th over of the Indian innings and had an uphill task against the hosts. However, the pair denied Australia any success after Pujara’s fall and took India to 280/5 at tea.
While Vihari continued to bat on despite struggling with an injury, Ashwin stayed put in the middle despite being tested with short balls. The duo soldiered on and helped India reach the 300-run mark in the 115th over before the game entered the final hour.
Australia, with 10 overs to go, had a chance to get Hanuma Vihari out, but Paine dropped his third catch of the day as Vihari got a life. The Ashwin-Viahri vigil continued as the two completed a fifty-run stand in 246 balls.
With an over to spare on the final day, both the teams decided to shake hands and India, after a stupendous effort from Ashwin and Vihari, earned a hard-fought draw against the hosts.
Brief Scores: Australia 338 all out and 312/6 (Cameron Green 84, Steve Smith 81; Navdeep Saini 2/54) draw India 244 all out and 334/5 (Rishabh Pant 97, Cheteshwar Pujara 77; Josh Hazlewood 2/39)