Hanuma Vihari and Ashwin Ravichandran, the final session heroes of India’s memorable draw in the Sydney Test, said that it took a while for them to register the impact of their feat as they were both numb after battling through injuries for over three hours to save the match.
The lower-order duo put together a valiant, unbeaten partnership of 62 runs off 256 balls to secure a draw and keep the Border-Gavaskar Trophy series level at 1-1. Set a target of 407, India finished the day at 334/5 (131 overs). Vihari, who injured his hamstring and could barely run, remained not-out on 23 off 161 while Ashwin, with a sore and strapped back, was unbeaten on 39 off 128.
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“It was really, really special. Both of us went numb and blank for a while, we didn’t even celebrate towards the end because we didn’t know what to make of it,” Ashwin said after the match.
“Batting that session was quite an experience for me, it was something you can only dream of... batting on day five with the series on the line. If you can do it for the team, that satisfaction, I think it will slowly sink and then slowly realise how big an effort that was,” Vihari added.
Speaking about his back injury, Ashwin said: “Somehow if you talk about premonitions, from last night when I went to bed with a sore back I kept telling myself that if somehow I just keep dead batting everything like Faf du Plessis did at Adelaide I could give myself a chance.”
One of the reasons the partnership clicked was the constant communication between the two, including chats in Tamil.
Vihari said Ashwin spoke to him like an older brother.
“Ash, like an elder brother was coming whenever he felt I was a bit low and telling me that let’s focus on one ball at a time and take it as deep as possible. The communication we had was really special,” he said.
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The off-spinner added that it was all about batting for time.
“From our side, our communication was very good, I am not sure if the runs were as important in the partnership, it was more about batting time. Whenever we got comfortable about a certain bowler in a certain spell we wanted to hang on to that, especially with his hamstring and (my) back we didn’t really want to keep chopping and changing and losing our concentration. We really hung in tight, especially toward the end,” he said, calling Vihari’s effort outstanding.
Both expressed the view that there was a time where they thought India could actually win the match.
“The way Rishabh played it made everyone hopeful of something fantastic that could be achieved but nevertheless Puji [Pujara] and Rishabh [Pant] laid the foundation for us to be able to see through the last three hours or so,” he said.
Vihari added, “A draw is a fabulous result for us. I feel that if I was fit and Puji was there for some more time, we could have had a different result maybe.”
Here’s the full video of the conversation
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