Ricky Ponting earlier predicted India would not make it past 200 in the fourth innings of the 3rd Test match of the Border-Gavaskar trophy in Sydney.
Not only did India cross that mark, having lost Rahane early on the final day of play, they seemed well on their way to mark their biggest run-chase at the SCG, as Rishabh Pant’s pyrotechnic strokeplay made the Aussie target of 407 seem like it would be a smooth couple of sessions’ work to get home.
Pujara at the other end, stoic and immovable as always, dependable as always, held strong with the odd flourish which reminded skeptics of his pure class, as him and Pant put on a century-run stand to rudder India into a winnable position.
But it wasn’t meant to be, as Pant fell to a shot which he might come to regret, as he fell three short of a well-deserved ton, probably his best Test innings thus far.
In came Hanuma Vihari who was superseded by Pant up the batting order, in a gamble that paid off for India. With a dropped sitter earlier in the match and single digit batting figures for the most part, Vihari has had a forgettable series so far in Australia, and was assumed to be fighting for his place in the side in this final innings at the SCG.
And fight he did, with a knock that will be anything but forgettable. Vihari (23 not out off 161) and Ashwin (39 not out off 128), who got together in the 89th over of India’s second innings, wore down Australia by batting for more than 42 overs for a 62-run stand.
This has been the definition of an injury-plagued season for the Indian team, as Vihari appeared to have torn a hamstring and was hamstrung for the rest of his knock, with India then deciding to shut shop on going for the win and going into match-saving mode, barely taking any singles and Ashwin weathering a flurry of bodyline bowling from Cummins, Starc and co.
India ended up with 334 for five in 131 overs, with the team at reduced capacity, a hostile Aussie crowd and team alike and a test match that will be discussed at water coolers for years to come.
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