Australia (572/7 dec) and (251/6 dec) drew with India (475) and (252/7, Vijay 80, Hazlewood 2/31)
The Sydney Test between India and Australia concluded with a draw as India resisted the Australian attack in the 4th innings. While chasing 349 for an unlikely win, India finished with 252/7 at the close of play on the final day of the Test match.
Australia declare overnight, India start with caution
Australia went for an overnight declaration, after having stretched the lead to a gigantic 348 on Day 4 itself, leaving India with the tough task of surviving the whole of Day 5 on a wearing SCG track.
K.L. Rahul and Murali Vjay, opened the Indian innings with a lot of caution and made sure that the visitors did not suffer any early hiccups. The duo batted out the first hour of Day 5 and put the match on track for an exciting finish with a 48 run stand. Rohit Sharma, who came in after Rahul’s dismissal to Lyon also played watchfully and kept the threat posed By Nathan Lyon at bay. At lunch, India had done fairly well to reach 73/1.
Kohli and Vijay press the accelerator
Kohli came to the crease after Rohit’s departure for a score of 39. And, just as they had done in Adelaide, Vijay and Kohli made their aggressive instincts known very soon. The run rate slowly crept up and the Indians, who were hitherto fearful of falling apart on the final day, now started entertaining thoughts of even chasing the Australian total down, with their best batsmen making things look easy at the crease! Vijay worked his way to an artistic half century, in very much the same manner that he had done in the rest of the series, while Kohli found a way to score quick runs every now and then. India went into tea, needing 189 runs in 33 overs for a famous win.
India lose wickets, Rahane saves the day
The match turned in favour of the hosts after the dismissal of Vijay and Kohli, soon after tea. Vijay perished on 80, when he attempted a cut off a Hazlewood delivery, which had a tad more bounce on it, and ended up edging an easy one to the keeper. Kohli was caught in the slips, when he went for an unnecessary extravagant drive on the score of 46.
The two wickets somehow rejuvenated the drooping Aussie shoulders and brought the hosts back into the game – Raina and Saha fell soon after, both failing to open their accounts in this innings (Raina’s unfortunate comeback to Test cricket thus ended with a couple of ducks!). Ravichandran Ashwin held on for 22 balls, scoring just 1 run in the process, before being adjudged LBW to Hazlewood, with India still needing to bat out 12 more overs. India were in trouble !
This time around the Indian team had two composed heroes to salvage the situation. The final act in this great escape proved to be a match saving 35 run partnership between Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Ajinkya Rahane that took Indian to safety, without losing any further wicket. Rahane’s defence remained solid as ever, and he also managed to farm the strike very effectively.Bhuvi’s impressive technique meant that India could provide a solid rear guard effort from both ends thereby neutralizing whatever the Aussie bowlers threw at them.
Positives from the Series
An Adelaide like sorry ending looked plausible with the flurry of wickets that fell after the Kohli-Vijay surge in the second session. It was Ajinkya Rahane who came to India’s rescue with a composed innings under pressure. Even though the series is lost 2-0, the Indians will have the satisfaction of keeping Australia’s advance in reasonable check in the last two Tests. With some much needed improvements in the bowling department, the Indian Test team can look set for ascendancy in the test rankings and hopefully we can even see a few more elusive overseas wins if the turnaround does happen in the near future!