What a day it has been for Indian cricket. Hanuma Vihari and Ravichandran Ashwin fought all the odds and injuries after Cheteshwar Pujara and Rishabh Pant led the comeback to save the Test match from nowhere at the Sydney Cricket Ground. The herculean effort from the Indian team helps them to keep the Border-Gavaskar Trophy tied at 1-1 with one match to go.
Meanwhile, Australia dominated most of the sessions in this gruelling contest, but India won those mattered. Steve Smith’s century coupled with half-tons from Will Pucovski and Marnus Labuschagne put the hosts on top after one-and-half days. The Indian bowlers fought back hard to wrestle control from the hosts to end day two on a high. The pendulum again shifted towards the home team and Paine’s men were favourites to go 2-1 up with a day to go after setting a target in excess of 400.
Vihari-Ashwin show grit and determination
Not many have expected India to salvage a draw in the final day let alone a victory after losing Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill in the third session of day 4. And, when Ajinkya Rahane was dismissed in the second over, the Aussies would have fancied their chances to wrap it up quickly. But, Cheteshwar Pujara and Rishabh Pant (promoted to five) had other ideas.
The two contrasting batsmen put the hosts under immense by backing their own strengths. The Indian keeper-batsman, who copped a blow in the first dig, walked out without an arm guard and put on a show with the bat. Yes, he was dropped twice by Paine, but the swashbuckling southpaw forced Paine to take Nathan Lyon off the attack on more than one occasion.
However, Pant missed his ton by three runs trying to a play high-risk shot against Lyon while Hazlewood got one to beat Pujara’s block. The ball has once again shifted to Australia’s court but Hanuma Vihari and Ravichandran Ashwin dished out a fight of the ages.
India had to go for the draw as Vihari injured his hamstring and it really wasn’t an easy pitch to bat on. Ashwin, peppered by some fiery short-ball stuff immediately after tea. The four main Australian, all locals, bowlers gave their best, but the Vihari-Ashwin pair negated everything thrown at them stoutly. They batted for 258 balls before both sides shook hands for a draw.
India cricketers earn praise for fighting spirit
While it might do down only as a draw, it was no short of a victory from India’s perspective. Fighting a mini-hospital like situation and giving everything till the last drop of blood, the batters gave everything to save the match which quite evidently lit up social media platforms.
Twitter was on fire with former cricketers hailing India’s fight at the Sydney Cricket Ground. Form Virender Sehwag to Ajit Agarkar to Sachin Tendulkar, all spoke highly of the Indian team and the fight they put in.
Here is how Twitter reacted:
Really proud of #TeamIndia!
— Sachin Tendulkar (@sachin_rt) January 11, 2021
Heartening to see the fight showed by @Hanumavihari who batted with an injury and @ashwinravi99 who showed a lot of character to draw the test match. Kudos to team India 🇮🇳 for playing tough cricket. Test cricket at its best! @bcci #INDvAUS
— Vinay Kumar R (@Vinay_Kumar_R) January 11, 2021
Great effort India to draw the Test, tremendous courage and grit shown by the guys especially Pujara, Pant, Vihari and Ash
— Mohammad Kaif (@MohammadKaif) January 11, 2021
What a remarkable determination showed by @ashwinravi99 & @hanumavihari and a brilliant game displayed by Team India with the series currently at draw. Extremely proud of your game today🙌 #AUSvINDtest pic.twitter.com/l9qUMmWBUO
— Suresh Raina🇮🇳 (@ImRaina) January 11, 2021
Great fightback by #TeamIndia! Special effort out there and the team showed amazing physical and mental strength.
— hardik pandya (@hardikpandya7) January 11, 2021
— R P Singh रुद्र प्रताप सिंह (@rpsingh) January 11, 2021
— S.Badrinath (@s_badrinath) January 11, 2021
— Ajit Agarkar (@imAagarkar) January 11, 2021
In the series so far, the other important difference maker is quite evident. “Catches do win you Matches”. Without taking any credit away from our batters. Hats off to the resilience 👍 #AUSvIND
— Pragyan Ojha (@pragyanojha) January 11, 2021
Drawn Match can be soooo exciting, that's the beauty of Test Match cricket.
Gill, Jadeja, Vihari, Ashwin, Pujara & Pant.. Just Waooo…#INDvsAUS
— Ranadeb Bose (@swingswami) January 11, 2021
— Brad Hogg (@Brad_Hogg) January 11, 2021
Amazing fight by Indian. Vihari hamstrung, Ashwin peppered with short stuff. What a series. #BorderGavaskarTrophy
— Usman Khawaja (@Uz_Khawaja) January 11, 2021
Tried all tricks including Steve Smith trying to remove Pant's batting guard marks from the crease. Par kuch kaam na aaya. Khaaya peeya kuch nahi, glass toda barana.
But I am so so proud of the effort of the Indian team today. Seena chonda ho gaya yaar. pic.twitter.com/IfttxRXHeM
— Virender Sehwag (@virendersehwag) January 11, 2021
Fantastic stuff from #teamindia This is as good as a win .. kept hanging in there all the way.. Well done specially to @cheteshwar1 @RishabhPant17 @Hanumavihari and of course @ashwinravi99 .. #AUSvIND
— Russel Arnold (@RusselArnold69) January 11, 2021
Some incredible fight shown today by @BCCI @cheteshwar1 @ashwinravi99 @Hanumavihari @RishabhPant17 and all involved in that performance throughout. Well done to my good mate @RaviShastriOfc .
Long live test cricket.. #INDvAUS #TestCricket #TeamIndia #fight
— Simon Doull (@Sdoull) January 11, 2021
Time to tip the hat for Vihari & Ashwin. Simply outstanding by both these players. A monumental effort! #AUSvsIND 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻
— Anjum Chopra (@chopraanjum) January 11, 2021
— Deep Dasgupta (@DeepDasgupta7) January 11, 2021