India put up an extraordinary fight in the third Test against Australia in Sydney on Monday as Ashwin Ravichandran and a hamstrung Hanuma Vihari battled pain and a hostile Australian bowling attack for close to four hours to bat out a draw and keep the series tied at 1-1.
Chasing a target of 407, Rishabh Pant (97 off 118 balls) and the ever-steady Cheteshwar Pujara (77 off 205 balls) produced a brilliant 148-run stand before the last-standing pair employed the largely extinct art of Test-saving batting, finishing on 334/5 in 131 overs.
The remarkable rearguard action came on the back of racial abuse and a spate of injuries as Australia looked set for a win in the second session on day five.
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After Pant’s blistering 97, Ashwin (39 no, 128 balls) and Vihari (23 no, 161 balls) quite literally put their bodies on the line to save a game which could have been lost in a jiffy after their two best batsmen were gone on the day.
Vihari hobbled with a torn hamstring but defended dourly, Ashwin got hit on the ribs but carried on valiantly while also engaging in some chatter with Australia captain Tim Paine and close-in fielders.
The duo, in 42.4 overs, scrapped their way for a 62-run stand, which certainly would have made Rahul Dravid proud on his 48th birthday.
Overall, it was a match to remember and a reminder of why Test cricket is a unique art form.
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