Sport Injury-riddled India hangs on to save third Test, sets up Gabba decider

Injury-riddled India hangs on to save third Test, sets up Gabba decider

test cricket
Nathan Lyon celebrates after taking the wicket of Rishabh Pant on day five of the Third Test. Photo: Getty
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India has shown grit, composure and enormous levels of concentration to secure a remarkable draw in the third Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Monday.

A hamstrung Hanuma Vihari (23 not out from 161 balls) and Ravichandran Ashwin (39 not out from 128 balls) helped the injury-hit tourists bat out the final session to keep the series at 1-1 before the deciding Test at the Gabba from Friday.

Facing a bouncer barrage, the pair batted through almost 42 overs and 190 minutes to save the match and allow India to finish on 5-334.

It left India’s score short of the 407 required for victory, but their 131-over effort to survive would have felt like a win to the tourists.

Australia also only had itself to blame, with captain Tim Paine grassing three chances, including one diving in front of first slip David Warner from Vihari with 8.1 overs to go.

The only other real chance came when on the second ball of the final session when Ashwin was given out caught behind, only for a review to show the ball had hit his arm guard.

Not since South Africa batted through 117 eight-ball overs in 1964 to deny Australia has a team faced more balls to survive at the SCG.

Indian batsmen Rishabh Pant and Cheteshwar Pujara walk off at lunch of day five of the third cricket Test at the SCG. Photo: Getty

Earlier, Josh Hazlewood and Nathan Lyon claimed two crucial wickets to put Australia back on top.

The visitors went to tea at 5-280 on the final day, still needing 127 more to pull off what would be the third highest successful Test run chase of all time.

A brilliant 148-run stand between Rishabh Pant and Cheteshwar Pujara threatened to set up an epic finish.

Nursing an injured elbow, Pant scored a rearguard 97 from 118 balls after India lost captain Ajinkya Rahane to Lyon in the second over of the day.

The aggressive wicketkeeper-batsman hit three sixes and 12 other boundaries in his knock, regularly taking Lyon on down the ground.

At one stage he hit the tweaker for a six inside out over cover, before clearing Pat Cummins and the rope at long on the next ball.

And for a moment, Australia must have seen flashes of Ben Stokes at Headingley in 2019.

But in an instant the match turned again.

Eying his third Test century, Pant again attempted to take Lyon (2-101) down the ground but this time only succeeded in miscuing to Cummins at gully.

Shattered, he took a long time to walk from the field, largely taking India’s hopes of retaining the Border-Gavaskar Trophy in Sydney with him.

Hazlewood (2-26) landed another blow before before tea, with a ball that seamed away from Pujara and took his off stump on 77.

Pujara had just increased his own scoring before departing, with Hanuma Vihari at the other end battling a hamstring injury and poor form.

But in the 7.4 overs following before tea, India scored just eight runs as Vihari and Ravichandran Ashwin shut up shop.

At least 36 overs still remain in the day.

Team selection ahead of fourth Test at the Gabba

Ricky Ponting, sitting alongside Sunil Gavaskar in the Seven commentary box, suggested there would be plenty of debate among the tourists about their XI for the Gabba Test.

“Jadeja is going to go out,” Ponting said.

“Do they need five bowlers in Brisbane? Can they get through with the three quicks and one off-spinner?

“If they did that, they could bring Saha in for Jadeja and leave the batting the same.

“Or do they keep going with Pant (as keeper) and try and strengthen their top-order batting?

“They will probably need extra batting, to be honest, at the Gabba.”

Mayank Agarwal and Prithvi Shaw, who have both been axed during this series, are the only reserve batsmen left in India’s squad.