• Australian batsmen grind their way to prevent India from running away with a series win in third Test

    Gaurav JoshiMar 21, 2017, 07:00 IST

    Australia’s Peter Handscomb square drives during his match-saving unbeaten 72 on Day Five of the third Test against India in Ranchi yesterday. Pic/AFP
    Australia’s Peter Handscomb square drives during his match-saving unbeaten 72 on Day Five of the third Test against India in Ranchi yesterday. Pic/AFP

    Australia don’t draw too many matches. Traditionally, they have always played for a win and if they fall behind in the game, they often end up losing. However, this team is different. They are prepared to go through the grind and as they showed on the final day in Ranchi on Monday, content to play for a draw.

    In the past, Australian skippers have been guilty of letting the game slip once the opposition are on top by applying over-attacking fields and trying take wickets at the cost of runs. On this tour, Steven Smith has been comfortable applying a sweeper cover and a third man the minute he realised the Indians were getting runs easily.

    In the past, such moves were seen as negative, but Australia have realised that to beat India in India you need to play a different brand of cricket according to the surface. Smith deserves full credit for gathering his troops together and collectively deciding to adopt a style that is so unnatural to them.

    The fact that each of the players have been able to execute Smith’s new style of batting has also ensured that the Australians are competitive in all situations. On Day Five in Ranchi, when Smith’s off-stump was knocked down by Ravindra Jadeja an hour into the day’s play, it looked like Australia’s hopes of a draw had evaporated.

    But like so often in this series, two batsmen stood up to the challenge. Peter Handscomb remained unbeaten on 72 from 200 balls to guarantee a draw for Australia. Shaun Marsh got out for 53 but not before putting 124 runs for the sixth wicket with Handscomb. That partnership killed all hopes of an Indian win.

    It also meant that apart from David Warner, every other Australian batsman managed to defy India at critical stages.

    The same can be said about the Australian bowling. Steve O’Keefe shone in Pune, Nathan Lyon and Josh Hazelwood dazzled in Bangalore. Then, on a pitch with nothing to offer for pace bowlers, Pat Cummins unsettled the Indians in Ranchi.

    Australia have ticked every box on this tour and now head to Dharamsala, knowing that they have exceeded their own expectations.

    Figure trigger

    Six
    No. of century stands between Vijay and Pujara in 2016-17 is the second most by any pair in a season. Hayden and Ponting with seven in 2005-06 are the best in this regard

    Seven
    No. of centuries Pujara has scored in first-class cricket this season. He is joint second with Gavaskar and Pataudi. VVS is at the top with eight first-class tons in a season

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    Scorecard

    AUSTRALIA (1ST INNINGS) 451
    India (1ST INNINGS) 603-9 dec
    AUSTRALIA (2nd INNINGS)
    D Warner b Jadeja 14
    M Renshaw lbw b Sharma 15
    N Lyon b Jadeja 2
    S Smith b Jadeja 21
    S Marsh c Vijay b Jadeja 53
    P Handscomb not out 72
    G Maxwell c Vijay b Ashwin 2
    M Wade not out 9
    Extras: (b 9, lb 4, nb 3) 16
    Total (6 wkts; 100 overs) 204
    Fall of wickets 1-17, 2-23, 3-59, 4-63, 5-187, 6-190
    Bowling
    R Ashwin 30-10-71-1
    R Jadeja 44-18-54-4
    U Yadav 15-2-36-0
    I Sharma 11-0-30-1