Indian batsmen showed immense grit and determination on the final day at SCG to pull off a draw in the third Test against Australia.
While chasing 407 in the fourth innings, India had 8 wickets in hand when they came out to bat on Day 5. Despite losing skipper Ajinkya Rahane early, the visitors continued their fight as the duo of Cheteshwar Pujara (77 off 205 balls) and Rishabh Pant (97 off 118) shared a 148-run stand for the fourth wicket.
Although India lost both of them in the second session, the hopes were kept alive by Hanuma Vihari (23* off 161 balls) and Ravichandran Ashwin (39* off 128 balls). The pair lasted 258 balls before both sides decided to shake hands with the tourists making 334/5 from 131 overs in the second essay.
Speaking after the game, India's stand-in skipper Ajinkya Rahane said that the result feels as good as a win and added it was good to see everyone contributing to the team’s cause.
"This is as good as winning a Test match, when you come abroad and play a match like this, it was really special. Credit to Ashwin and Vihari for the way they batted, Pujara, Rohit, Pant everyone chipped into the team's cause. But credit to Vihari and Ashwin for batting 2.5 hours in the end," Rahane said during the virtual press conference, as quoted by ANI.
"We knew we had to take it one session at a time, we were not thinking about our target. Pujara and Pant batted well for us, but once they got out, unfortunately, Vihari had the injury and because of that, he had to play with a certain approach. Credit to all the guys for the way we played and this feels as good as a win," he added.
Commenting on Vihari's knock despite batting with hamstring injury, Rahane said: “See, Vihari was batting really well in the last three Tests. He was not able to get a big score but today we all saw his special knock. I think his knock was more special than his 100, the way he batted after being injured, he showed motivation and he hung in there for the team. It was really good, it was all about what the team wanted and credit to him for the way he handled himself. It was really special to see how he managed his injury.”
"Australia has a world-class bowling attack, all three fast bowlers are great. It was all about playing an entire attack and not against an individual, it was all about showing the character till the end, I am really proud of the guys. We all were disappointed after the Adelaide Test, but the atmosphere was good, everyone was backing each other and everyone was trying to help each other out," he further remarked.
Wicketkeeper-batsman Pant, who was promoted to No. 5, had given India a glimmer of hope of winning the Sydney Test at one stage with his blazing innings.
Talking about Pant's knock, Rahane said: "I think we know that he is a quality player, left-hand and right-hand combination was crucial for us especially today. We promoted Rishabh to number five, the way he counter-attacked was pretty good. He got out on 97 but it was a crucial knock for us. I am really happy for Rishabh, the way he batted today, it was a really special knock.
"See, about Pant's batting number, we had the strategy of promoting him and we talked about it. As management, you can make strategies. But in the end, it is up to to the individual to go out there and do the job, credit to him for managing the innings as he did. We know Pant can win the game for us from any position, we have the belief in him and he is improving day by day," he continued.
With this result, Team India also kept the series levelled at 1-1 going into the fourth and final Test, starting January 15 at the Gabba in Brisbane.
(With ANI inputs)