A couple of injuries, plenty of drop catches and a hard-fought defiant battle has resulted in a memorable draw in the third Test match between India and Australia at Sydney Cricket Ground on Monday. Despite having plenty of injuries in the third Test alone, the Indian team put on an incredible fight. India could not have paid a better tribute to Rahul Dravid on his birthday. The team showed great character and defiance, earning praises from people across the world.
India were chasing 408 to win the third Test and take 2-1 lead in the Border-Gavaskar series. Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill set the tone for the visitors with the former scoring 52 runs. Both were dismissed on day 4.
Going into the final day of a Test match, India needed 309 runs with 8 wickets in hand to win the game at Sydney. Captain Ajinkya Rahane and India’s most dependable batsman, Cheteshwar Pujara took the crease as India had a long day ahead. Plenty of predictions were made ahead of the start of play on day 5. While many predicted that Australia would bowl out India to win, some believed that India could pull a draw or even win the game.
India had plenty of injury issues going into the final day. All-rounder Ravindra Jadeja has been ruled out with thumb fracture for the final Test match of this tour. Word is that he has been ruled out in the next two Test matches when England tour India in February. However, Jadeja was given painkillers and injections and was padded up to bat if the need arose.
Others joining the already long injury list in this match are Rishabh Pant and Hanuma Vihari. Pant injured his hand during the first innings and there were doubts whether he would come out to bat in the fourth innings. Vihari batted the entire day with an injured hamstring. However, the fighting spirit in them played a crucial for India’s heroic fightback.
When Rahane was dismissed in the second over of the day, Australia could smell victory. An injured Pant was promoted ahead of Vihari and joined Pujara in the middle. Australia had all the ingredients to win this match, an injured Jadeja, an out of form Vihari and tailender not amongst the runs. However, the only player standing between Australia and victory were several dropped catches. Australian captain Tim Paine kept putting down catches left, right and centre.
While Pujara tired down the Australian bowlers, Pant, who started his innings slowly, took on the bowling attack. Both did what they do best. The way the duo pushed Australia on the backfoot as Aussie great Shane Warne described during commentary. Both players made use of the old ball really well. The attitude was perfect. India knows how dangerous Australia are with the new ball considering their dangerous bowling trio of Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc and world No. 1 Test bowler Pat Cummins.
Pant was caught out three short of a century. However, he had done his job and earned the respect of cricketing legends Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman and Tom Moody to name a few. Many fans hailed the Delhi southpaw's batting and have said that this innings is one of the best Test knocks in recent times.
After Pant’s dismissal, Pujara took the attack to the opposition, letting Vihari settle in. Pujara scored back to back half centuries and reached the 6,000 run milestone during earlier in the day. The milestone couldn’t have come on a better day as it is Rahul Dravid’s birthday. Pujara’s knock was a perfect tribute to “The Wall” of Indian Cricket. After Pujara’s dismissal, Ravichandran Ashwin and Vihari played cautiously and helped India draw the game. They braved through everything Australia threw at them. Both had a bit of luck riding with them. Australia had so many chances to dismiss the duo, but let things “drop” from their hands.
India proved all their doubters wrong. Character, focus, determination and defiance separated India from Australia. The third Test had everything a spectator can ask for, however, the only thing marring this great match was a certain section of the crowd making racist remarks at Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Siraj. Cricket Australia is investigating the matter and released a statement promising strict action against the culprits.
Going into the final Test, India will be having plenty of changes as three players have suffered injuries. Wriddhiman Saha could be included as Indian will not want to take a chance with Pant’s injury. With Jadeja out, Kuldeep Yadav or T Natarajan could be filling in for him.