Shaun Marsh and Peter Handscomb have dug deep to help Australia salvage a draw from the third Test, thwarting India on day five in Ranchi. No match is won or lost until the last ball is bowled. Indiam team counted chickens before they were actually hatched. When Australia lost Steve Smith and Matt Renshaw we underestimated the opposition and they played out a draw. Despite a great bowling effort by Ravindra Jadeja, Team India could not record a win at Ranchi and the Aussie side kept the series alive at 1-1.
Bowlers win matches but this time both Peter Handscomb and Shaun Marsh had other ideas to make a match of it in the end with stubborn resistance till a lead was achieved and the overs ran out on the last day. It was openly seen that Ashwin was under bowled in both the innings of this test match and with the result the victory was not ours this time. Again, it was late declaration on the penultimate day of the test match and that cost us valuable time in the end. We waited for records to be established and landmarks to be achieved. And in the bargain, Australians fought out a grim battle and made sure that the match ended in a tame draw.
The visitors resumed at 2-23 and slipped to 4-63 during Monday’s morning session. Marsh and Handscomb responded with a game-saving stand of 124 runs that soaked up 374 balls and almost four hours. Stumps were finally pulled with Australia leading by 52 runs at 6-204.The result was somewhat of a moral victory for Steve Smith’s side, who were batted out of the contest by double-centurion Cheteshwar Pujara and the handy century of Saha. But we went further waiting for a fifty of Jadeja and that valuable time enabled the team from down under to force a draw in the end.
The four-Test series remains level at 1-1. The visitors boast the upper hand heading to Dharamsala, where the decider starts on Saturday. Australia holds the Border-Gavaskar trophy and will retain the silverware if the series is drawn. Handscomb, who finished unbeaten on 72 off 200 balls, and Marsh, who scored 53 from 197 balls, earned standing ovations from teammates after resisting star spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja. Left-right combination put paid our hopes in the end. Our bowlers failed to get a nagging line during this part.
The final-day stonewall, one of many scenarios that Australia trained for during a pre-tour camp in Dubai, was remarkable for several reasons. It was proof that Australia’s batting order could not only function but thrive with minimal contributions from their two best batsmen, captain Steven Smith and vice-captain David Warner. Cheteshwar Pujara won the man of the match award for his superlative double hundred.