Team India batted out 131 overs in the second innings to pull off a famous draw in the third Test against Australia at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
While chasing 407 in the fourth innings, India had 8 wickets in hand when they came out to bat on Day 5. Despite losing skipper Ajinkya Rahane early, the visitors continued their fight as the duo of Cheteshwar Pujara (77 off 205 balls) Rishabh Pant (97 off 118 balls) shared a 148-run stand for the fourth wicket.
Although India lost both of them in the second session, Hanuma Vihari (23* off 161 balls) and Ravichandran Ashwin (39* off 128 balls) showed immense grit and determination to deny Australia a likely victory. The pair was battling injuries but still lasted 258 balls before both sides decided to shake hands.
WATCH- Vihari and Ashwin get grand reception in Indian dressing room after SCG draw
Ashwin came out in the middle with a sore back while Vihari had a hamstring tear that severely restricted his ability to run between the wickets.
“With his hamstring and my (sore) back, we did not want to lose concentration and play a (bad) shot. In the last four-five overs we knew we were close and we started to slip a bit. So we wanted to rotate the strike and play each other’s end,” Ashwin told bcci.tv in an interview which also featured Vihari.
“We did not even celebrate towards the end because we did not know what to make out of it. Because we were so channelised in taking on a certain particular bowler and keep blocking.”
WATCH – @ashwinravi99 & @Hanumavihari relive #TeamIndia’s valiant fightback.Playing through pain, battling bruises, negotiating a top Australian bowling attack and taking #TeamIndia to a memorable draw. SCG stars relive it all here – by @Moulinparikh????https://t.co/F6PR9Wprai pic.twitter.com/Pc8qqSjp50
— BCCI (@BCCI) January 11, 2021
India eventually made 334/5 in their second innings and Vihari felt he could have taken the side over the finishing line had he not been injured and Pujara stayed a bit longer.
“Getting a draw was a fabulous result. I feel if I was not injured and Pujara stayed some more time it could have been a different result, maybe it would have been a fabulous win,” he said.
During their marathon vigil, Ashwin and Vihari added 62 runs for the sixth wicket.
“If you talk about premonitions, from when I went to bed last night with a sore back I was telling myself that if I keep dead batting everything, how (Faf) du Plessis did at Adelaide, I can give myself a good chance,” Ashwin said.
The off-spinner also elaborated how painful the injury was at the start of his innings.
“When I went in to bat, (Nathan) Lyon was bowling. I stretched in first three-four balls, and my back was shooting through from my lower back to neck. I told him (Vihari) I should not have played that shot over the top because it completely tweak it out.
“If I gave it a break for an over, my back was getting stiff again. So I told him I will stay and keep playing because if I don’t play it stiffens up and I have to get the chest guard on.
“In the middle of a Pat Cummins spell we found ourselves in the eye of the storm. There was a bit of luck and I think we got through pretty well.”
Sharing his communication with Vihari right through their partnership, Ashwin said, “Runs were not important in that situation. It was more about batting time. Whenever we are comfortable with a particular bowler or ceratin spell we wanted to hang on.
Vihari said the satisfaction of saving a Test match by batting on Day 5 hasn’t sunk in yet.
“It was something you can only dream of, batting on day five of a Test match. The satisfaction of doing that is slowly sinking in and realise how big that was.”
(With PTI inputs)