An intense battle between the bat and the ball on the final day saw India draw the 3rd Test at Melbourne, after a surprisingly delayed Aussie declaration. India were set a near-impossible target of 384 to chase down in 70 0vers at the MCG and when play closed India had reached 174 for the loss of 6 wickets.
So India held on to a draw after the usual fifth day nerves. The Australians were defensive in their approach and were late in declaring their 2nd innings, which they ultimately did after scoring 318/9. This draw is only the first draw at the MCG in over 15 years
Rain delays the proceedings, Australians delay the declaration further
The mesmerizing 4th innings chase, spearheaded by Virat Kohli, in Adelaide just a couple of weeks ago must have had a strong effect on the Australians. For today they delayed their declaration on the morning of the final day, even after being aware of the time lost due to the rain breaks. The runs were already on the board for the hosts, by the end of Day 4, the lead having comfortably crossed the psychological barrier of 300.
Shaun Marsh and Ryan Harris, however, made the Indians wait – as they progressed at snail’s pace to take the lead past 350 and made it look well nigh impossible to chase down. Shaun Marsh was eventually run out by Virat Kohli on the doorstep of his century at 99 runs, and soon after that came the declaration of the Aussie innings.
India lose 3 quick wickets as Australians go for the kill
The Indian chase looked very much over after the top 3 – Shikhar Dhawan, Murali Vijay and debutant K.L. Rahul – were dismissed within the first 9 overs of the innings, sending shock waves through the Indian dressing room. It was up to the first innings heroes – Ajinkya Rahane and Virat Kolhi – to script a turn-around for the shaken Indian unit with a reassuring 85 run stand. The duo stood up tall against the relentless pressure of the Aussie bowlers and fielders to take India into the last session of play without any more casualties!
Fortunes change, Australians bag the momentum
It had been a match with fluctuating fortunes and the very last session of the final day was no different. Kohli was dismissed soon after the Tea break and Pujara and Rahane’s brief partnership was followed by both retruning to the pavilion against the run of play. The last hour of play began, with MS Dhoni and Ravichandran Ashwin at the crease, with India having to survive a minimum of 15 overs with just 4 wickets in hand.
The final showdown
A period of attrition is all that one can call that last hour of play – the Australians were all over the two Indian batsmen, who defended resolutely. Both Ashwin and Dhoni had to be on their toes right from the very start of their innings. And, for once they lived up to the expectations. Ashwin’s handiness with the bat came to the fore once again and Dhoni’s mental strength and ability to live through these periods of extreme stress kept the Australian’s at bay. So assuring was the 32 run partnership that the Australians agreed to a draw with 4 overs still to be bowled.Again the Australian side was perhaps too conservative as history would have told them that in 2008 India had once lost 3 wickets in the final over by Michael Clarke to lose a test match. Steve Smith does not seem to be like Michael Clarke !
A sigh of relief pervaded the visitors’ camp after they saw India draw Melbourne Test against the formidable Aussie line up.
India have finally SAVED a Test match, but have unfortunately lost this series against Australia courtesy poor execution of plans in Adelaide and Brisbane. This draw, however, must lend the Indians the confidence that they can go a step further and press for a win in the next Test match at Sydney.
Read more about how the Melbourne Test match here.