India defied the odds and batted for more than 130 overs to deny Australia what looked like an easy victory. Rishabh Pant and Cheteshwar Pujara dazzled in the morning, before an injured Hanuma Vihari and brave Ashwin struck up a 250+ ball partnership to save the Sydney Test.
Australia only have themselves to blame for not winning the match and take a 2-1 lead in the series. The hosts dropped multiple catches on Day 5, as they failed to drive home their advantage.
Brief scores: India 334/5 (Rishabh Pant 97, Cheteshwar Pujara 77; Josh Hazlewood 2/39, Nathan Lyon 2/114) and 244 all out drew against Australia 338 all out and 312/6 d (Cameron Green 84, Steve Smith 81; Navdeep Saini 2/54, Ravichandran Ashwin 2/95)
The equation was simple in the final session – India needed 127 to win or play out the final session for a draw, while Australia had to pick up 5 wickets to win the Sydney Test.
And Australia thought they had Ashwin off the first ball post Tea after he was adjudged to have gloved the ball to the keeper. But a smart review by the India spinner meant that he survived and play went on.
The home side had a clear plan. They pitched the ball short to the Indian batsmen but both Ashwin and Vihari were up to the task. Ashwin, in particular, took several blows to the body but stood up to the barrage of bouncers.
While Ashwin saw off the threat and started getting the odd boundary, Hanuma Vihari’s strategy on the other end was simple: play out as many deliveries as possible without worrying about runs. The result was an innings of 7 off 112 balls with an hour left in the day's play. He dug his heels in to guide India to safety.
As Australia searched for the elusive wicket, Indians were having none of it. They rode their luck at times as the Aussies dropped Vihari and Ashwin, and some leading edges landed in between the fielders.
Australia captain Tim Paine had a torrid day behind the stumps, dropping three catches in total. There was also time for a bit of banter as the match edged towards a historic result. The Australia skipper got into a fiery verbal battle with Ravichandran Ashwin.
But as the result became clearer, the two sides shook hands with one over left in the day.
India played a brilliant morning session on Day 5
India began Day 5 in the most disastrous of circumstances, losing Ajinkya Rahane in just the second over. The skipper’s dismissal off Nathan Lyon saw Rishabh Pant come in ahead of Hanuma Vihari.
While the youngster rode his luck against Lyon early on, he settled into his groove and showcased a tremendous display of counter-attacking batting. Pant took on the Australian bowlers, especially Nathan Lyon. The wicketkeeper-batsman used his feet brilliantly to unsettle the spinner, and smashed him for three sixes down the ground.
As Pant’s carnage continued, Cheteshwar Pujara was his usual defensive self at the other end, complimenting the attacking instincts of Pant. The duo’s century stand meant that India lost just one wicket by lunch.
Australia sent back Pujara and Pant post lunch
Australia came back in roaring fashion after lunch as they finally managed to dismiss Rishabh Pant. The batsman, who played one of his best Test innings to date played one shot too many and perished while attacking Nathan Lyon.
Cheteshwar Pujara brought up 6000 Test runs and his half-century in the afternoon session but was out bowled after he misjudged the line while facing Josh Hazlewood.
With the Sydney Test ending in a draw, all eyes now shift to the Brisbane Test that will begin from January 15. India need to avoid defeat to retain the Border-Gavaskar series as Australia try to wrestle back the bragging rights in a few days.Published 11 Jan 2021, 13:25 IST