World Cup-winning captain Ricky Ponting feels the partnership between Hanuma Vihari and Ravichandran Ashwin was one of the best ever by a touring team on Australian soil. The former Australia skipper said the duo didn't give many chances and left the home team 'scratching their heads'.
Hanuma Vihari and Ravichandran Ashwin got together at the crease after the fall of Cheteshwar Pujara's wicket. With the second new ball still in its early stage and an injured Ravindra Jadeja alongside a long tail waiting in the pavilion, Australia would have sensed an opening to win the Test match. However, Ravichandran Ashwin (39* off 128) and Hanuma Vihari (23* off 161) produced a defensive masterclass to keep the Australian bowlers at bay.
On the Unplayable Podcast, Ricky Ponting was asked whether he had seen a braver partnership by a touring team on Australian soil, to which he said:
"There have been some good partnership over the years, Dale Steyn and JP Duminy at the MCG was a pretty big partnership in the context of that series, Rahul Dravid and VVS batted at Adelaide when he (Dravid) got 200 there and won that Test match, That would have been a big partnership. But that's it," Ponting said.
"We have been talking about for a while (how good the current Australian attack is), the best bowling attack in the world on day 5. With a chance to go 2-1 down, today's (partnership between Vihari & Ashwin) rates really highly. I think it was 259 balls they were together and when you break it down, there weren't too many chances. Australia will be most concerned about that they didn't create many chances for that 40 odd overs which has probably made them scratch their head a little bit. That says a bit about the pitch but also about the character and determination those two guys showed with that partnership," Ponting added.
What made the partnership more special was that both the Indians were battling through pain and injuries. While Hanuma Vihari has been ruled out of the fourth Test because of a hamstring tear, Ravichandran Ashwin is nursing a back problem.
India's impressive show in the fourth innings
India finished at 334/5 in the fourth innings and batted out 131 overs. After the fall of Pujara's wicket in the 89th over, Ravichandran Ashwin and Hanuma Vihari held fort until the end of the Test match.
This was the first time since 2002 that the Men in Blue batted for more than 100 overs in the final innings of a Test match.
The last time India batted over 100 overs in the final innings of a Test was against England at Lord's in 2002. The match is famously remembered for Ajit Agarkar's 109* in India's second innings innings. However, the touring team lost that game by 170 runs.