Off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, who played a key role as India pulled off a famous draw in the third Test against Australia at SCG, said it was difficult for the visitors to go for a win after losing set batsmen Rishabh Pant and Cheteshwar Pujara.
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 Pujara (77 off 205 balls) Rishabh Pant (97 off 118) shared a 148-run stand for the fourth wicket.
Although India lost both of them in the second session, Hanuma Vihari (23* off 161 balls) and Ravichandran Ashwin (39* off 128 balls) batted with immense grit and determination to deny Australia a likely victory. The pair lasted 258 balls before both sides decided to shake hands with the tourists scoring 334/5 from 131 overs in the second essay.
"Chasing 400 in Sydney was never going to be easy, as the ball was going up and down. That knock by Pant set us up. After Pujara and Pant's wicket and with Vihari injured, it was going to be difficult to go for the win," Ashwin told host broadcasters after the match, as quoted by ANI.
"Touring Australia is never easy so Vihari can be proud of himself. It was a knock equal to scoring a hundred. I was just telling the batting coach during the lunch break that I have never left the SCG without a fifty, this is a venue where I have done well with the bat and today's innings is right up there," he added.
Ashwin also revealed that the result made the dressing room environment electric.
"The atmosphere in the dressing room is electric. In Test cricket we don't get a lot of draws, it was a really exciting last session. I just went to Pujara and told him, you sold me down the river in both the innings," the veteran spinner said.
He also spoke about the challenge of facing No. 1 Test bowler Pat Cummins in the fourth innings.
"Cummins was bowling in a different league altogether. There was a bit of double bounce, so it was difficult against Cummins. I think facing Bumrah in the nets is not easy. We have bowlers who can bowl in the 150s. I have been batting well in the nets, so it was great to spend some time in the middle," Ashwin remarked.
With this outcome, 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)