Rishabh Pant, Hanuma Vihari and R Ashwin came up with the best batting performances of their careers while Chesteshwar Pujara was at his defiant best as India fought injuries, banter and the best fast bowling attack in the world and saved the third Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) on Monday. It was the greatest draw India has achieved in their Test history - without Virat Kohli and three of their main strike bowlers and with an injured Ravindra Jadeja, Vihari and Ashwin.
India played out 131 overs in the 4th innings at the SCG to save the Test - it is the highest number of overs batted out by an Asian Team in the 4th innings to save a Test match in Australia. It was also the joint fourth-best effort by India in the 4th innings (in terms of playing out overs) while successfully saving a Test. It was the third time in India’s Test history that four batsmen faced 100-plus deliveries in the 4th innings of a Test - Pujara, Pant, Vihari and Ashwin - all playing their roles to perfection. India’s total of 334 in the last innings was their third-highest 4th innings’ total in Australia after 445 (1978) and 355 (1968). India had lost both those Tests in Adelaide in Brisbane which basically means that SCG 2021 was India’s highest 4th innings total in Australia in a draw.
While it is difficult to top India’s grit, determination and fight at SCG 2021, there have been some other memorable 4th innings’ performances from India over the decades - where they have shown character and fight and saved the Test against all odds and adversity.
Vs England at The Oval, 1979
England had taken a 103-run first innings’ lead in the fourth Test of the series against India in 1979 at The Oval. Geoff Boycott scored a hundred in the second innings as the home team set India a daunting target of 438 to win. They were stunned by the visitor’s reply. Sunil Gavaskar and Chetan Chauhan put together a magnificent double hundred opening-partnership. Chauhan was finally dismissed for 80 with the team score at 213. The Gavaskar-Vengsarkar duo continued the good work and stitched 153 for the second-wicket before the latter was dismissed for 52. They had put their team on the course of re-writing history.
However, India lost some quick wickets which derailed the chase. Gavaskar was the fourth wicket to wall with the score at 389. The great Indian opener produced a brilliant 221 off 443 deliveries almost taking India on the verge of a historic win. But the middle order collapsed - Viswanath, Yashpal Sharma, Yajurvindra Singh all fell in quick succession. India ultimately ended with 429 for 8 in 150.5 overs agonizingly close to the target. They fell short by just 9 runs! It was a draw for the ages. India has never played more overs in the 4th innings saving a Test than they did at The Oval in 1979.
Vs West Indies at The Eden Gardens, 1948
It was the third Test of the 1948 home series against the West Indies with the series tied at 1-1. The visitors had the upper hand in the Test and with the help of a big first innings’ lead set India mammoth 431 to win in the last innings. The Test was dominated by Everton Weekes who had registered a hundred in each innings of the match. No one gave India a chance of saving the Test. But a splendid hundred from opener, Mushtaq Ali (106) with contributions from Rusi Modi (87), the great Vijay Hazare (58) and skipper, Lala Amarnath (34) helped India to bat 136 overs in the 4th innings losing just three wickets. They ended with a total of 325. It was a phenomenal show of defiance by the Indian batsmen.
Vs West Indies, Mumbai (Brabourne Stadium), 1958
Garry Sobers hit a splendid 142 in the second innings setting India a target of 399 for victory. India played out 132 overs of a bowling line up consisting of greats like Wes Hall and scored 289 still having half their wickets in the kitty. There were match-saving contributions from a number of batsmen but opener, Pankaj Roy (90) and Gulabrai Ramchand (67) stole the show with their dogged and gritty batsmanship.
Vs Pakistan, Delhi, 1979
This was a special effort by the Indian batting line-up after being bowled out for 126 in the first innings. Set 390 in the 4th innings, India lost their captain and poster boy, Sunil Gavaskar early for 21 with the team score at 37. Chetan Chauhan and Dilip Vengsarkar resurrected the innings with a solid half-century stand for the second-wicket. The Colonel was in the mood and looked in sublime form on one end while the Indian middle order kept chipping with useful contributions from the other. Viswanath - 34, Yashpal Sharma - 60, Kapil Dev - 21 all batted around Vengsarkar who produced one of the best hundreds under pressure of his career in Delhi. He remained unbeaten on 146 off 370 deliveries and almost pulled off an impossible victory for India. The home team finished with 364 for 6 playing out 131 overs in the 4th innings.
Vs South Africa, Port Elizabeth, 2001
South Africa has been a difficult country for India to tour. They have not won a series in South Africa till date. Forget a Test win, even a draw is a rare achievement for a sub-continental team in South Africa. India produced one such effort in the summer of 2001. Set 395 for win in close to 100 overs with the likes of Ntini, Hayward and Pollock in the opposition bowling line-up, India lost Shiv Sundar Das in the very first over of the second innings. Deep Dasgupta and The Wall, Rahul Dravid then produced a rearguard action seldom seen by India in SENA. The pair batted for more than 80 overs and put together 171 for the second-wicket. Dasgupta was dismissed after scoring 63 but more significantly he had consumed 281 deliveries. Dravid faced 241 balls for his 87. India batted for a little over 96 overs and scored 206 for the loss of just three wickets.