India’s Great Escape In Sydney : When A Draw Is As Good As A Win

Sydney it seems has become a city of unsavoury incidents in recent times . The memories of monkey gate of 2008 involving Andrew Symonds and Harbhajan Singh is still fresh in one’s mind now comes another disgraceful incident in 2020. This time a racial slur on team India players – Mohammed Siraj and Jasprit Bumrah by a section of the crowd.

With the series levelled 1-1 after Adelaide and Melbourne the stage was set for a titanic clash between the two sides. Australia after Melbourne was keen to settle scores with India. And to win at Sydney they in-fact gave it all – from hurling racial slurs, sledging (Tim Paine to R Ashwin and Ashwin replying come to India it will be your last series), bodyline bowling (Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc bowled aggressive short pitch deliveries) and what’s worse Steve Smith was caught on camera scuffing the batting mark of Rishabh pant when India batting last on the pitch. Yet team India stood tall , hung in there with grit, determination , courage and in the end had the last laugh.

Who would have thought chasing 407 and 98/2 on the fourth day India would manage a draw in the Test and at one stage threatened to take the game away as well. Nobody, After the new low of 36 all- out at Adelaide, team India has shown character, grit and self- belief and this was evident in Sydney.

In trying times India found heroes – Rishabh Pant a blistering attacking 97 off 188 balls after he was hit on elbow in the first innings . He plays the way he knows best – attack. Yes, his wicket- keeping needs to improve or for the matter sharpen but with his batting he is clearly the X- factor in the side. He may have missed a hundred but this 97 was invaluable and showed the intent and the desire to take the fight to the Aussies.

Cheteshwar Pujara, played his typical characteristic watchful innings 77 off 206 balls following up with his earlier effort of 50 off 176 balls in the first innings which was widely slammed for his approach of not rotating the strike that forced other batsmen to take risks. Imagine if Pujara converted his 50 into big hundred in the first innings and second innings when Rishabh was come out with all guns blazing? The result of the match well had been different.   But this is all if . In sports Ifs and buts do not matter.  The duo’s 148 run stand in-fact rattled Australia and gave India a improbable chance to win .

Later on Hanuma Vihari ( injured with hamstring) hung on and played innings of his life surely a gritty 23 off 161 balls and superbly supported by equally determined Ravichandran Ashwin 39 off 128 balls. Theirs was historic partnership of 52 runs off 247 balls. it was a marathon effort and helped India force a remarkable draw with the score at 334 / 5 at the end of the play.

India’s great escape at Sydney was  in a sense a fitting birthday gift to former India skipper and batting legend Rahul Dravid , who turned 48 on January 11. After all team India’s grit , determination , courage and ability to stay in the middle for long periods were the attributes that earned Dravid the famous nickname ” The Wall”. Hence the result was indeed a fitting one . India now have all the reason to believe that they can beat Australia and Gabba is the venue to complete this unfinished business.

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