Ind vs Aus: Australia ride on Handscomb, Marsh to draw third Test in Ranchi
Ind vs Aus : 3rd Test
Australian batsmen thwarted the Indian bowling attack to survive the fifth day of the third cricket Test in Ranchi to force a draw and keep the series alive.
India and Australia will now go to Dharamsala with the four-match series tied at 1-1.
Starting the day at a nervy 23/2 in reply to India’s 603/9 declared, Australia were 204/6 in 100 overs in their second innings when the two teams decided to end the proceedings.
Peter Handscomb and Shaun Marsh’s gritty vigil at the crease helped the Aussies to survive the day. Handscomb (72 not out) and Marsh (53) combined to share a 124-run fifth-wicket partnership to steer Australia to safety after the cheap dismissal of skipper Steve Smith (21) and Matt Renshaw (15) had given the visitors’ dressing room moments of anxiety.
Marsh was eventually dismissed by India’s bowling star Ravindra Jadeja, who continued his purple patch to finish with figures of 4/54.
Handscomb, on the other hand, played the anchorman role to perfection and remained unbeaten after holding the fort for 200 deliveries.
The Indian bowlers, especially pacer Ishant Sharma (1/30), looked menacing in the pre-lunch session but the Aussies managed to hold their ground in the last two sessions.
With today’s result, the series remained locked at 1-1 setting up a mouth-watering finale in Dharamsala, starting March 25. The hill town would be hosting its maiden Test match.
The simmering tensions between the two sides have only added to the drama with today being no exception.
There was animated chatter between Renshaw and Ishant in the latest round of verbal altercations before the Indianpacer had the last laugh by trapping the opener LBW.
Having turned the tide yesterday, riding on Cheteshwar Pujara and Wriddhiman Saha’s marathon partnership, India were in contention for an unassailable lead in the series.
However, Handscomb and Marsh absorbed the pressure with their calculated knocks to deny the hosts, who apart from the sizeable crowd, were also cheered on by former captain and local favourite Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
Premier off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin was a major disappointment for the home team. He managed just one wicket in the second innings to go with his solo scalp in the first essay.
Earlier on Sunday, the Team India managed to dominate the fourth day of the match with the help of extraordinary form by Cheteshwar Pujara and Wriddhiman Saha.
Pujara scored a double-century and Saha notched up a ton as the duo produced a partnership of 199 runs to enable India declare their first innings at 603/9 for a lead of 152 runs.
Australia had scored 451 in their first innings.
Pujara scored 202 runs off a marathon 525 deliveries with 21 hits to the ropes. This was the third Test double-century for Pujara and his second against Australia.
The Saurashtra batsman also created the record of most balls faced in an innings by an Indian batsman.
He is the first Indian to face more than 400 balls in a Test innings at home since V.V.S. Laxman batted 452 deliveries during his 281-run knock against Australia during the Kolkata Test in 2001.
Pujara’s marathon innings came to an end soon after the double-century when he tried to loft a Nathan Lyon delivery over midwicket and Glenn Maxwell pulled off an excellent catch.
Saha was also in excellent form at the other end, scoring 117 runs. His third century in the longest format of the game came off 233 deliveries and included eight boundaries and a six.
The hosts’ first essay consumed 210 overs, the most numbers of overs that India have ever batted against Australia in a single innings. The previous highest was 202 overs during the Adelaide Test in 2004.
Among the other Indian batsmen, opener Murali Vijay scored 82, while Jadeja remained unbeaten on 54.
Fast bowler Pat Cummins was the most successful among the Australian bowlers with figures of 4/106.
Left-arm spinner Steve O’Keefe returned figures of 3/199 while pacer Josh Hazlewood and off-spinner Lyon claimed a wicket each.
After skipper Virat Kohli declared the India innings with less than hour to go for stumps, left-arm spinner Jadeja claimed the wickets of David and Nathan Lyon to leave Australia struggling at 23/2 in their second outing when play was called for the day.