India, led by a sensational innings from Rishabh Pant, stood firm for the entirety of the final day to secure a draw with Australia in Sydney.
India came into the final day on 98-2, still trailing Australia by 309 runs. They exited after occupying the crease for the duration of the day, which, against an attack boasting some of the world’s foremost Test bowlers, was an immense feat.
Ajinkya Rahane fell early, but Cheteshwa Pujara, who was not out overnight, dug in. He occupied the crease for 205 deliveries, only being removed by an unplayable delivery from Josh Hazelwood. That had taken the game to tea, with just 36 overs left.
His batting partner, Rishabh Pant, has only one gear, though. The left-hander was aggressive from the outset, smashing Nathan Lyon out of the attack and slashing the seamers to all parts of the SCG. He fell just three runs short of what would have been a memorable Test century, facing 118 balls for his 97 runs, hitting 12 fours and three sixes in the process.
Ultimately, Lyon got his man, deceiving Pant with his flight and catching an edge that spat to gully. The young Pant kicked the boundary rope in frustration as he walked off, but in time he’ll understand the significance of this innings, particularly away from home. With him at the crease, India were well and truly in contention for victory.
Pujara fell 22 runs later, forcing Ravi Ashwin and Hanuma Vihari, who’d torn his hamstring while batting with Pujara, to build the resistance. They toiled hard, exhibiting excellent technique against spin and seam, and never looked in serious danger.
With nine overs to go, Mitchell Starc found Vihari’s edge, sending the ball flying towards wicketkeeper Tim Paine, who grassed a relatively easy catch. It was Paine’s third drop of the day and arguably the most costly.
The bowlers were unable to create another opportunity, and India held on for one of Test cricket’s most heroic draws.