The plan was to fight till the end without thinking about the result: Ajinkya Rahane
Ajinkya Rahane was a relieved man as India managed to eke out a historic draw at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Monday.
Speaking at the post-match presentation, the Indian skipper said that the talk going into the fifth day morning was to fight till the end without speculating much about the result. "Our talk coming this morning was to show character and fight till the end. Not to think about the result. Really happy with the way we fought especially today but also throughout the game," - Rahane was quoted as saying at the post-match presentation.
Trailing by 309 runs on Day 5, India suffered a huge blow when Nathan Lyon accounted for the stand-in captain Ajinkya Rahane quite early. Rishab Pant walked out to bat at number 5 ahead of Hanuma Vihari. The onus of steadying the innings hinged completely on the pair of Cheteshwar Pujara and Pant. They didn't disappoint either. The duo launched an attack, not allowing the bowlers to settle and dictate terms. While Pujara was compact and steady in his approach, Pant quickly got his eye in and struck a flurry of boundaries. The partnership had neutralised the early loss of Ajinkya Rahane and also helped India stage a fightback.
Pant, who was looking in ominous touch, fell three runs short of what could have been an incredible century. Soon after, Hazlewood produced an unplayable delivery that saw the back of Cheteshwar Pujara. The Saurashtra batsman played a gritty knock, scoring 77 runs off 205 balls. With two well-set batsmen back in the hut, India's hopes began to fade away. But what followed next was indescribable. Hanuma Vihari and Ravichandran Ashwin produced one of the finest rearguard actions in Test cricket.
Despite carrying a hamstring injury, Vihari stood tall against the Aussie bowlers. The veteran all-rounder Ashwin brought all his experience to the fore, scoring an unbeaten 38 off 128 balls. The duo dead-batted their way to squeeze out a memorable draw at the SCG.
Ashwin, one of the protagonists of the historic Sydney Test, claimed that his unbeaten 128-ball 39 was one of his best batting performances.
"For me, personally, that innings is very, very important because I haven't got a lot of scores in the last 18 months or so but I've been batting well in the nets, even batted well in the first innings, so it was quite pleasing to get that knock. The atmosphere in the dressing room is absolutely electric, everyone is relieved to a certain extent." Ashwin quoted as saying on Fox Sports after the match.
The series is evenly poised at 1-1 going into the fourth Test at the Gabba, which begins on 15th January.