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Sydney Test: Injured Vihari, gritty Ashwin brave the tide to guide India to nail-biting draw

Vihari (23* off 161) bats out the day with hamstring as he forged an unbeaten 250-ball 62 partnership with Ashwin (39 off 128) to earn Team India a morale-boosting draw at the SCG.

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New Delhi Updated on: January 11, 2021 12:54 IST
Hanuma Vihari Ravichandran Ashwin
Image Source : GETTY IMAGES

Hanuma Vihari and Ravichandran Ashwin celebrate during day five of the Third Test match in the series between Australia and India at Sydney Cricket Ground on Monday.

A battered and bruised India lineup has survived the full fifth day to force a draw in the third cricket test against Australia and leave the series hinging on the final test in Brisbane.

India resumed Monday at 98-2 needing a further 309 to win at the Sydney Cricket Ground and finished 73 runs short on 334-5.

The India lineup pushing for victory while an injured Rishabh Pant (97) and Cheteshwar Pujara (77) combined in a 148-run stand that put all the pressure back on Australia.

Nathan Lyon removed Pant in the last over with the old ball and Josh Hazlewood bowled Pujara to make the total 272-5, giving the hosts the edge going into the last session.

But Hanuma Vihari, constrained by a hamstring strain he picked up while running through for a single, and Ravichandran Ashwin stonewalled together for 258 deliveries in a partnership of after India switched plans and pushed for a draw rather than risk chasing an unlikely win.

Ashwin, who was given out but successfully overturned the caught-behind decision, was hit on the body by a short ball and survived a dropped catch but finished unbeaten on 39 from 128 balls. Vihari faced 161 balls for his unbeaten 23, getting a late reprieve when he edged Mitchell Starc and Australia captain Tim Paine put down a catch behind the stumps.

If the fourth day at the Sydney Cricket Ground was overshadowed by allegations of racist abuse from the crowd, the fifth was memorable for the courageous Indian innings to defy test cricket’s leading bowling attack.

Going into the last hour of play, India had five wickets in hand and Australia’s bowling attack was frustrated and ragged. No more wickets fell. In the last innings, four catches were uncharacteristically put down.

Ravindra Jadeja was next on the list to bat, waiting in his protective kit in the pavilion despite his fractured thumb, but wasn't needed.

Australia had the upper hand in the match after winning the toss and posting 338 before taking a first-innings lead by bowling India out for 244. Australia extended the lead to 406 before declaring at 312-6 in its second innings, giving India four sessions to either pursue a near record fourth-innings chase or settle for the draw.

The series is tied 1-1 after lopsided wins — Australia by eight wickets in Adelaide, India by eight wickets in Melbourne — before the finale at the Gabba starting Friday.

Australia hasn't lost a test at the Gabba since 1988. India, despite a series of injuries and players unavailable, is aiming to end that streak.

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