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  • Writer's pictureSportFM

India salvage incredible draw

India has kept the Border-Gavaskar series tied at one Test apiece after an incredible rearguard batting performance on the final day, losing just three wickets in 97 overs to deny Australia at the SCG.

A thrilling 97 from Rishabh Pant and a stoic 77 from Cheteshwar Pujara had Indian fans dreaming of an incredible last day victory, before Ravichandran Ashwin and a wounded Hanuma Vihari decided on survival in the final session, batting through the 35 overs bowled to complete an epic rearguard for the tourists.

The final day commenced with India 2-98, needing to survive the best part of 100 overs or chase a further 309 runs for victory, Pujara (9*) and skipper Rahane (4*) at the crease.

Rahane fell without adding to his overnight total, sharply snaffled at short leg off the bowling of Nathan Lyon, giving the off-spinner his first wicket of the match.

Injured wicketkeeper Pant surprisingly walked to the crease at number five, having copped a blow on the arm in the first innings and having been unable to take the gloves in Australia's second innings with the bat.

He was afforded a life early on 3 when Tim Paine spilled an edge behind the stumps off Lyon, eventually releasing the shackles with a four and a six in one over from the same bowler having laboured to five from 35 balls.

It began a stunning assault from the left hander, hitting Lyon out of the attack as part of a blistering knock that changed the complexion of the morning session, Pujara also beginning to tick the scoreboard over as the partnership reached 100.

Pant continued on his merry way past 50, hitting Lyon for sixes off consecutive balls as the spinner switched ends with no luck for his side.

The 23 year old looked on his way to three figures after the lunch interval before a rush of blood on 97 bought about his downfall, skewing an attempted drive to backward point from Lyon to Pat Cummins who snaffled the chance.

Pujara picked up the tempo in hitting Cummins for three fours in one inspired over, before Josh Hazlewood produced an unplayable delivery to castle the rock of India's batting line up, having made 77 from 205 balls.

Australia were sensing an opportunity to run through the visitors at 5-272 still needing another 135 runs to win with Tea approaching, India's casualty ward growing with Hanuma Vihari appearing to strain a hamstring taking off for a single before the interval.

He batted on after the break as Australia desperately searched for a sixth wicket, injured all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja padded up and ready to bat if required despite a broken left thumb.

Ashwin saw off an early short ball barrage in the final session while Vihari blocked stoically despite being incapacitated by his injury, India taking the game in to the final hour without further loss.

No matter what Australia tried with the ball they could not separate the pair, heated words exchanged between Australian captain Tim Paine and Ashwin that were picked up on broadcast stump microphones.

Paine dropped a catch off Mitch Starc moments later that was Australia's last chance to separate the heroic Indian duo, Vihari living to fight another day and be there when the teams eventually shook hands.

Ashwin and Vihari survived 256 balls and 42.4 overs in adding 62 runs, Vihari undefeated on 23 from 161 balls and Ashwin on 39 from 128 deliveries, his highest score of the series.

It was the great escape for India, having started the day well behind in the match in a memorable Test that saw all three results possible heading in to the final session.

Lyon and Hazlewood claimed two wickets each on a disappointing day for Australia, four catches going down as Paine's men were left to rue what might have been, the man with the gloves shelling three chances himself.

The draw sees the series remain level at one Test apeice, with the final Test of the series confirmed to be played at the Gabba by Cricket Australia and the BCCI on Monday morning, starting this Friday.


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