Brave rearguard from India saves 3rd Test against Australia with a draw!
Galatta | Jan 11, 2021, 04:07 pm
The third Test between India and Australia was a perfect advertisement for Test cricket and kept see-sawing between the two sides. After a rain-marred first day saw Australia lose just 2 Wickets, the Indian bowlers rallied to restrict Australia to 338, despite Steve Smith finding form with a Century. The Indian batsmen began strongly with Rohit Sharma and Gill showing very good stability and Gill going on to score a half-century. However, the Australian bowling hit back and restricted India to just 244, securing their team a 94-run lead. The Australians built on the lead and got to 312 for the loss of just 6 Wickets, with half-centuries by Pucovski, Smith and Cameron Green. Smith was well on his way to a 2nd Century of the Test but fell to Ashwin. The Aussies declared at the stroke of Tea on Day 4, setting India a target of 407 to win, with 4 sessions left in the match!
At the end of Day 4, India had lost both openers despite having gotten to a steady start. The big question facing India was that, they were two players down, with Rishab Pant and Ravindra Jadeja, both suffering injuries. India's 2 most solid batsmen - Cheteshwar Pujara and Captain Ajinkya Rahane were at the crease when Day 5 began. However, Australia got a very early breakthrough with Rahane falling cheaply to Lyon. This brought out the injured Pant to the crease, to join Pujara. These two changed the match on its head. Pujara played his characteristically sedate innings but cashed in on all the loose balls, while Pant was on ODI mode. He didn't seem to be too fazed by his injury and sent all bowlers to different parts of the ground! In just 118 balls, Pant raced to 97 with 3 sixers and 12 fours! Pujara himself got to a half-century, the second of this Test! Pant's dashing innings came to an end just 3 runs short of his century, when he played 1 shot too many and got caught on the boundary, off Lyon's bowling!
Almost immediately, Hazlewood got Pujara for 77 and India's hopes were lost. From a position where India looked at going for a win, they were looking to save the Test with a draw. Ashwin was promoted ahead of Jadeja to join Hanuma Vihari at the crease. Jadeja was out of the Test with a dislocated thumb and Vihari was suffering from a strained hamstring. Ashwin, who has 4 centuries to his name, has not been in great batting form in recent times and it looked like India would slump to a defeat. Ashwin and Vihari had different thoughts though! It was just yesterday that Ashwin had told the media in their post match interaction that adversity brings the Indian team closer and exhorts them to become and play stronger. They did just that. Facing down the barrell, Ashwin and Vihari dug in and put together a 62-run stand. During this stand, the Australian bowling was ground to dust and the match ended in a draw. Steve Smith was adjudged the Player of the Match for his strong show with the bat and the Border-Gavaskar Trophy series still remains in the balance with India and Australia winning 1 match each. The 4th Test at Melbourne will be quite interesting with the series on the line.