The fifth day at Ranchi turned out to be quite long for India as the hosts failed to dismiss Australia on a track which remained flaccid till the very last delivery of the game. Heading into the last day of the third game – needing eight wickets – Virat Kohli-led were kept at bay thanks to a resilient partnership between Shaun Marsh and Peter Handscomb.
Barring Ravindra Jadeja, none of the Indian bowlers seemed penetrating enough as Ravichandran Ashwin, in particular, looked extremely off color. However, the game will most fondly remembered for the sheer heroics and grit of Cheteshwar Pujara, who piled up a marathon knock of 202 off 525 deliveries.
Post the game, Australian skipper Steven Smith admitted he was proud of his side’s performance.
“Proud of the way the boys stuck it out” said Smith.
“We are trying to be resilient and stand up in those tough moments. Handscomb and Marsh were fantastic. They played beautifully today and didn’t look like getting out for a while. I am really proud of them. This was a pretty nice wicket.”
Heaping praise on Glenn Maxwell and Pat Cummins, Smith said:
“I thought Maxwell was sensational in the first innings; that’s the way we want him to play. Cummins bowled beautifully. The ability to bounce out batsmen on this wicket was great. Not too often you spend 210 overs in the field. Boys dug deep and tried their best. To come out with a draw on day five, I am really proud. Massive game in Dharamsala.”
Cheteshwar Pujara was named the Man of the Match for his 525 deliveries vigil, and he too was surprised with his own grit and longevity.
“I think it was much needed for the team,” said Pujara of his partnership with Wriddhiman Saha.
“We lost six wickets and when Saha came in, we had a chat about having a long partnership. I never thought I will face so many balls. But I knew I had to bat long to get closer to their total.
“We are number one and we want to maintain it. To put them under pressure on the last day was good. They were four down at lunch but Handscomb and Marsh batted well, and that’s where the game changed. We have an opportunity to win the series,” Pujara concluded.