Day 5 at the iconic Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) saw tough Test cricket at its absolute best as the Indian cricket team managed to pull off one of the grittiest performances the nation has ever seen. The visitors batted 131 overs in their second innings to ensure that they enter the final Test at the Gabba, Brisbane with the series all square at 1-1.
Here are the major highlights from the third Test from this Border-Gavaskar trophy.
A DRAW AS GOOD AS A WIN
Very rarely do we see in Test cricket that a team would celebrate a drawn Test as much as a win but that’s what it felt to the all the fans of the Indian cricket team given the circumstances the team was under in this game. It all started with India losing the toss at a flat pitch on SCG and was put immediately under pressure as Steven Smith scored his 27th Test fifty to set up a good first innings total of 338 for the hosts. India had no reply to the relentless pressure put up by the Australian bowlers in their first innings as the team bundled out for 244. Australia were in the driving seat at the end of the third day and a win was surely on the cards for the hosts.
They set a target of 407 for the visitors to chase in their second innings but more realistically had a day and a session to get 10 Indian wickets on a Day 5 SCG wicket. A bruised and depleted Indian batting line-up exhibited why Test cricket is the real test of character of a team. We witnessed the charm of a drawn Test which felt more than a win at the end, as only Test cricket can provide us with such an amount of satisfaction. R Ashwin and Hanuma Vihari resisted for 42.4 overs after Cheteshwar Pujara and Rishabh Pant had lifted India earlier with a century partnership. Against all the odds, the Indian cricket team provided one of the most dramatic days in Test cricket and pulled off a draw which seemed very unlikely on the start of the fifth day.
MAJOR INJURY CONCERNS FOR TEAM INDIA
India would be unhappy with the way they batted in the first innings but what was more concerning was the number of players that got injured on the field during this game. Ravindra Jadeja’s thumb got dislocated while batting, Rishabh Pant injured his elbow in the first innings and couldn’t keep wickets in the second innings. R Ashwin hurt his back so much so that the poor guy didn’t even sit in the dressing room throughout the fifth day and Hanuma Vihari pulled his hamstring while batting in the second innings.
For more than a session the batters couldn’t even run between the wickets and it was like witnessing a ‘Blockathon’ for the entire last session. Post the match, it has been reported that Jasprit Bumrah has been ruled out for the fourth Test as he struggles with an abdominal injury and Mayank Agarwal was hit in the nets while practising and we await the scan results to know his future. At this point, it seems like even finding 11 fit players for the Gabba Test would be a tedious task for Team India.
TIM PAINE FAILED TO WALK THE TALK
The Australian captain, Tim Paine has led his side with exceptional calmness and dignity in the previous two years. But the pressure of not being ahead in the series got to the Australian captain in this third Test at the SCG. He was fined for his abusive language and dissent towards the on-field umpire Paul Wilson on the third day. Then on the final day, his verbal exchange with R Ashwin didn’t put him in the best light as the Australian captain. The fact that he dropped three catches on the same day didn’t help the wicketkeeper either. Tim Paine normally has one of the safest hands in Australian cricket but seemed distracted by the so-called ‘white-noise’ in this Test, and it got the better of the Aussie captain.
HAS RISHABH PANT SILENCED THE CRITICS?
For a player who is just 23 right now and has played only 15 Tests so far in his career, Rishabh Pant attracts a lot of unnecessary criticism from across mediums. His wicket-keeping skills continue to be a work in progress but the overall package that Pant brings to the field is far superior to anything Indian cricket has ever seen. He has already scored two centuries in Test cricket and both of them have come on tough overseas tours. He nearly notched up his third century but fell three runs short at the end. Nevertheless, he changed the tempo of this game on the fifth day and gave his nation a realistic chance of winning the Test from a very unfavourable position. It is high time that people appreciate the skills of this young boy and empower him to become the best cricket player he can be in the future.
MOHAMMED SIRAJ IS THE HERO WE ALL NEEDED
Day three of the Sydney Test came in the limelight for an off-field incident when Mohammed Siraj was allegedly racially abused on the boundary line. Siraj did the right thing and immediately reported the incident to the umpires. The play was stopped and the hecklers were escorted out of the cricket ground. This example set by the Indian pacer is something we all need to take inspiration from. He didn’t feel like brushing the matter under the carpet or just blatantly ignoring what was being said. He did the right thing to stand up against the bullies and report the incident. There’s no place for racism at all in our game and our society. Whenever we come up against such incidents, then speaking up against the culprits is always the right thing to do. Well done, Siraj!
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