A game-altering stand of 124 for the fifth wicket between Peter Handscomb and Shaun Marsh scripted a memorable escape for Australia, as they kept India bowlers at bay for a full day to force a draw.
The Bordar-Gavaskar series remains leveled at 1-all, with the series decider scheduled from next Saturday (March 25) in Dharamshala.
Few would have foreseen this result when the visitors slumped to 4-63 ( still needing another 89 runs to make India bat again) just before Lunch on day five, but Handscomb and Marsh had other plans. The pair forged a commendable union to take their side of their out of the crises, as they negotiated 373 balls together to seal an unlikely, fleeting draw.
The day started in India’s favor with Ishant Sharma trapping Matt Renshaw in front for 15. Smith was accounted by Jadeja in the very next over, and it looked all set for another Australia’s second innings debacle.
Handscomb — who finished unbeaten on 72 having batted for 261 minutes — showcased incredible temperament and sure-footed technique, while Shaun Marsh was equally good at the other end, as he depicted sound judgment outside off-stump and his ability to counter spin.
India’s bowlers were throughout the day but wickets didn’t come as regularly as India wanted. Ravi Ashwin failed to run through Australia’s middle order, or provide any momentum to Jadeja’s cause. Yadav and Sharma bowled right channels, but could not follow up with wickets which India were in dire need of.
The manner in which Australia drew the third Test should give them enormous confidence going into the all-important final match of the series.
“Yes, it was (a nervous final day). Proud of the way the boys were sticking out today. We are trying to be resilient and stand up in those tough moments. The way Handscomb and Marsh batted today was fantastic. They played beautifully today and didn’t look like getting out for a while there. To build a big partnership and bat for as long as they did was really crucial. I am really proud of them. This was a pretty nice wicket. Was important to score big first innings runs. We probably left ourselves a few out there. 450 wasn’t enough to win this game, and then India batted beautifully in their first innings as well.
To come out with a draw on day five, I am really proud. 1-1 in the series and massive game in Dharamsala. Really excited. Can’t wait to go there and play.” Steven Smith, Australia captain, said.
“Yeah, for sure (we fancied our chances). We got ourselves into a very good position. Losing the toss on such a good wicket wasn’t easy. Not being able to take the field and see the opposition get big runs wasn’t easy again. We came back beautifully. Two guys batting out of their skins. KL Rahul and Vijay were outstanding but Pujara-Saha’s partnership was one of the best I have seen. Then Jaddu getting quick runs in the end. We didn’t expect to get 150 ahead to be honest. We thought if we get within 20-30 runs withing their total, it will be good for us, but credit to those two guys (who got us a lead) and we had a shot at winning the game.
“Guys just wanted to push their mental and physical limits, that’s why we ended up in winning position. Credit to Australia that they played out a draw. Given hundred per cent and that’s what we want to keep doing. Another game to go and we are ready for it.” Virat Kohli, India captain, said.
Day 1 story: Smith, Maxwell lead Australia dominance on day 1
Day 3 story: Cummins, Pujara shine on day 3 in Ranchi
Day 4 story: Pujara, Jadeja put India in control on day 4
Featured PC: JJ Photography