Ranchi: Sometimes even a draw could give a team the feeling of victory and the Australians experienced exactly the same emotions as they hung in to survive a stern test on the fifth and final day of the third Test against India at Ranchi to force a morale boosting draw.
Ravindra Jadeja's antics late on day 4 had raised hopes of an Indian victory on Monday, but the pair of Shaun Marsh (53) and Peter Handscomb (72*) showcased great application and dour defensive skills to bail the Aussies out of a tricky situation. The duo shared a 124-run 5th wicket stand to help the Aussies erase India's lead and eventually secure a draw that kept the series level on 1-1.
Cheteshwar Pujara and Wriddhiman Saha's marathon effort had given India a 152-run lead on Sunday evening and Jadeja's twin strikes meant Australia went into stumps at 23/2.
The final day started with Jadeja and UmeshYadav bowling in tandem, but Australian captain Steven Smith and opener Matt Renshaw put a price tag on their wickets and kept the Indian bowlers at bay.
Ishant Sharma was introduced into the attack and he troubled Renshaw with his incoming deliveries from around the stumps. The duo had a bust up when Renshaw moved away from the batting crease just as Ishant approached the bowling crease, citing movements in front of the sightscreen.
A miffed Ishant Sharma threw the ball away to the wicket-keeper in anger. While Ishant was walking back to his run-up, he had a verbal exchange with Australian skipper Steven Smith too.
Immediately after the exchange, a riled up Ishant Sharma caught Renshaw (15) plumb in front of the wicket to give the hosts their first breakthrough of the day. In the very next over Ravindra Jadeja deceived Australian captain Steven Smith.
That brought Shaun Marsh and Peter Handscomb together and the duo started a rearguard. Both Marsh and Handscomb showcased exemplary patience and defensive skills to first take the visitors safely to lunch at 83/4 and then kept on chipping away at India's lead, all the while keeping their wickets safe.
By the time the tea break was taken, both the batsmen had ensured that India's lead was down to just 3 runs. Handscomb was the first to reach his half-century and he was followed to the milestone by his partner Shaun Marsh.
Jadeja eventually dismissed Marsh for 53, but by then a draw looked like the only possible result. Ashwin removed Glenn Maxwell for 2 to pick up his only wicket of the innings. That was the last wicket to fall as Virat Kohli shook hands with Peter Handscomb to accept a draw with the Aussies on 204/6 after playing 100 overs in their second innings. Handscomb stayed unbeaten on 72.