The Battle of Champions: Gritty India Outbattle Fiery Australians
Grit, Determination, Resolve! Everything was on display as India batted and batted and batted to draw the 3rd Test of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. The series stands at 1-1 and the decider will be played at the Gabba in Brisbane next week. The Bharat Army presents the Key Moments, Story in Numbers, Epic Encounters and Banters as a gruelling Pink Test unfolded at the Sydney Cricket Ground over the last 5 days.
Key Moments in the Pink Test:
1. Aussies win the toss and the day -
When Tim Paine won the toss and elected to bat first on a belter of a pitch at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Day 1, it was advantage Australia but the in-form Indian bowling line-up was always going to be a threat. The 1st day of India vs Australia Test series turned out to be a stop-start one but the signs weren’t pleasant for India.
The men in blue did start on a high as Mohammed Siraj cut short the return of David Warner dismissing him for a single-digit score. Will Pucovski did score a maiden half-century in his debut Test innings but the alarm bells rang as Smith and Labuschagne put on an unbeaten 50-run stand at stumps on a rain-curtailed Day 1.
2. Ravindra Jadeja dominates the Aussies-
On Day 1, Ajinkya Rahane missed a trick as he under bowled Jadeja giving him the ball for just 18 balls. But Jadeja picked 4 wickets on Day 2 and inflicted a run-out of the main man Steve Smith. He varied the pace on the ball as the wicket was hardly offering anything to the bowlers and made use of the angles to trouble the batsman.
"I will rewind and play this run-out as this is my best effort. A direct hit from outside the 30-yard circle and that's like a moment that gives you that satisfaction. Three or four-wicket hauls are fine but this run-out will stay with me," said the 32-year-old post the day’s play.
Jadeja scalped 4 crucial wickets, including those of Marnus Labuschagne and Matthew Wade as Australia couldn’t build on the foundation laid by the top 4 and scored just 338 after being 206-2 at one stage.
3. Gill-Rohit opening partnership-
There was a lot of hype around India’s 3rd opening pair of the series and quite certainly Shubman Gill and Rohit Sharma did live up to the billing as they added 70 runs for the first wicket. The duo fell towards the fag-end of Day 2 as Pujara and Rahane batted out 77 balls and added a meagre 11 runs to the total.
4. India's poor running between the wickets, injuries, dropped catches and Australian ferocity-
Jadeja and Pant got off to starts in the 1st innings but couldn’t carry on and both were injured as they got hit off deliveries from the Australian pacers. During the course of the day, Jasprit Bumrah had some fitness issues but to India’s respite, he was fit and fine to bowl. At the end of the day, Labuschagne and Smith were unbeaten and Aussies aimed to set a huge 4th innings chase.
The No. 3 batsmen, Marnus Labuschagne was dismissed for 73 and Steve Smith scored 81 runs. Along with the usual suspects, Cameron Green scored his maiden fifty in International cricket and as the declaration inched closer he hit 4 sixes and propelled Australia to a lead in surplus of the 400-run mark. Green was dismissed by Bumrah as Tim Paine declared and India were set a total of 407 or had to survive a total of 132 overs to stay alive in the series.
But the innings had a fair share of drops including one on the 2nd ball of Day 2. There were 6 chances and 3 really close ones as one could argue the story could have been different if India held onto their catches.
Shubman Gill and Rohit Sharma put on another half-century stand but the relentless Aussie duo of Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins got a wicket each and dismissed the openers. Just like Day 2, Rahane and Pujara were the overnight batsman as India had a mountain to climb on Day 5.
5. A historic Day 5 as India pull of draw which felt like a win-
When Ajinkya Rahane was dismissed in the 2nd over, not many gave an injury-hit Indian side a chance, but Rishabh Pant’s promotion was a master-stroke. The southpaw applied himself well and scored 5 runs off his first 34 deliveries but when it was time he accelerated and counter-attacked the Aussies. Tim Paine was puzzled as Pant took Lyon to the cleaners and his 97 was his finest international innings till date.
Pant agonisingly fell 3 runs short of what could have been a well-deserved century and with Pujara added 148 runs for the 4th wicket. A little over 9 overs late, Pujara was dismissed as well and the onus was on Ravi Ashwin and Hanuman Vihari to play out the majority of the remaining 44 overs before an injured Jadeja, who dislocated his thumb could have come out to bat. Ashwin and Vihari notched up a partnership for the ages as they defended their skins out and battled through and kept the series alive.
Tim Paine was sloppy in his effort as dropped Pant twice, including once when he was on 3 and soon after he got his fifty. With 8 overs remaining in the day, Paine dropped Ashwin and let off Australia’s final chance to win the SCG Test.
Bharat Army stands against Racism: A dark spot on this gruelling Test
Both the teams played tough cricket over 5 days and the game between the bat and the ball was of the highest quality. But what happened on Day 4 will remain as a dark spot on the Pink Test. Mohammad Siraj and Jasprit Bumrah were racially abused at the boundary and Siraj reported it to the umpires. There was a brief stoppage of play before the Tea was taken. Racism in any form is unacceptable and to see something like this on a cricket field, saddened the cricketing ecosystem.
Our Bharat Army member @rajdwipthakur from Australia reminds all cricket fans the importance of one our core Bharat Army Values 'RESPECT', let’s all remember to protect this wonderful game we all love with the Respect that all it’s stakeholders deserve.
Cricket Australia and New South Wales said that they will investigate the matter and we as fans of this gentlemen’s game can hope that such idiots who tarnish the image of the Australian society are taught a tough lesson.
The BA Story in Numbers of the Sydney Cricket Ground:
Bharat Army Epic Encounter at the Sydney Cricket Ground: Rishabh Pant v/s Nathan Lyon
There were a few battles in this Test which grabbed eyeballs but none was as entertaining as the one between Rishabh Pant and Nathan Lyon. Pant had got off to an uncharacteristic start.