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Ajinkya Rahane reveals why Team India sent Rishabh Pant to bat ahead of Hanuma Vihari on Day 5

Rishabh Pant
Rishabh Pant
ANALYST
Modified 11 Jan 2021, 14:16 IST
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India's stand-in skipper Ajinkya Rahane revealed that Rishabh Pant was sent ahead of Hanuma Vihari on the last day of the SCG Test, as the team wanted a left-right combination at the crease.

Rishabh Pant scored 97 runs off just 112 balls, including 12 fours and three huge sixes, to give the visitors an outside chance of pulling off the improbable 407-run chase, but that was eventually not to be. Nevertheless, Team India managed to earn a creditable draw to stay level in the series ahead of the fourth Test in Brisbane.

The left-hander's 148-run stand with Cheteshwar Pujara ensured that Australia were put under pressure on the final day of the Test. Rishabh Pant took a special liking for Nathan Lyon and did not let the off-spinner settle into his rhythm.

In the post-match presentation ceremony, Ajinkya Rahane spoke about the impact Rishabh Pant's innings had on the outcome of the game.

"We made that strategy, but in the end it is all about the player (Rishabh Pant) executing the plan. It was all about the left-hand right-hand combination in the middle, and that worked out really well for us, and credit to him the way he batted: attacking innings and backed himself really well," Ajinkya Rahane said.

Apart from Rishabh Pant, Ajinkya Rahane also lauded the efforts of Ravichandran Ashwin and Hanuma Vihari

Ajinkya Rahane congratulates Hanuma Vihari and Ravichandran Ashwin after India drew the SCG Test.
Ajinkya Rahane congratulates Hanuma Vihari and Ravichandran Ashwin after India drew the SCG Test.

Ajinkya Rahane talked about the thought process of the team heading into the final day. With 309 runs to get and eight wickets in hand, the visitors wanted to show character and take it session by session.

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The 32-year-old also heaped praise on the efforts of Hanuma Vihari and Ravichandran Ashwin.

"Our talk coming this morning was to show character and fight till the end. Not to think about the result. Really happy with the way we fought especially today but also throughout the game, even in the first innings when Australia were 200 for 2 and getting them all out for 338 was really good. There are a few areas we can improve on but special mention to Vihari and Ashwin. The way they batted in the end and showed character was really good to see," Ajinkya Rahane said.

Despite pulling his hamstring early in the innings, Vihari showed great determination and will in not throwing his wicket away. He played 161 balls to score his 23 runs but ensured that he took his team to safety.

After Team India lost both Rishabh Pant and Pujara in quick succession, Australia could sense a batting collapse. With Ravindra Jadeja injured, the onus fell on Ashwin and Vihari to carry on the fight for Team India, a task they carried out with aplomb.

The 34-year-old spinner took blows on his body but did not give his wicket away. Like Vihari, he also remained unbeaten, scoring 39 runs off 128 deliveries. The valiant effort from the duo ensured that Rishabh Pant's heroics didn't go in vain.

Of course, Australia were uncharacteristically sloppy on the field, dropping several catches, which eventually helped Team India emerge unscathed from the SCG Test.

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After five days of riveting action, the Border-Gavaskar Trophy is on the line, as the series remains level at 1-1 ahead of the fourth Test at the Gabba in Brisbane on January 15th.

Considering Australia's great record at the venue - they haven't lost at the Gabba since 1988 - the hosts will fancy their chances of a win and reclaim the Border-Gavaskar trophy.

Meanwhile, a depleted India will take great confidence from the character and resilience they displayed in the SCG Test. However, the visitors will have to ponder about the personnel changes they need to make at the Gabba.

Published 11 Jan 2021, 14:16 IST
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