Peter Handscomb scored a terrific 72 not out off 197 balls to help Australia earn a draw © AFP
Peter Handscomb scored a terrific 72 not out off 197 balls to help Australia earn a draw © AFP

A superlative batting performance from Peter Handscomb and Shaun Marsh quashed India’s push for a win at Ranchi, as Australia showed resilience to earn a draw in the third Test on the final day. Handscomb and Marsh played out close to two sessions without much qualms and prevented India from causing any serious damage, after the hosts took out Steven Smith and Matt Renshaw in quick succession on the final day’s morning. India would be tad disappointed with the outcome, since they did a lot of hard work to get into a winning position after Australia had seized advantage early on, posting 451 in their first innings. The Border-Gavaskar Trophy 2016-17 thus proceeds into the final Test at Dharamsala with the two teams levelled at 1-1. FULL CRICKET SCORECARD: India vs Australia, 3rd Test, Ranchi

India needed 8 more wickets on the final day to win the Ranchi Test, but resolute batting from the visitors denied them a vital victory. Steven Smith and Matt Renshaw began the resistance and batted for most of the first session. However, a lapse in concentration resulted in their dismissals in quick succession. But as fate would have it, Handscomb and Marsh got together close to the lunch break, and their stubborn fifth-wicket stand for 124 runs was only broken 62.1 overs later, towards the ending stages of the game.

Handscomb brought out his best effort so far on this tour, facing 200 balls and staying at the crease till the end. However, Marsh was dismissed for 53, after which Glenn Maxwell also departed quickly. This prompted the Indians to keep playing right till the end. However, the game was called off before the final over was bowled, with Australia reaching 204 for 6, with a lead of 52 runs in the second innings.

For India, a monumental effort from Cheteshwar Pujara of 202 runs, for which he consumed record 525 balls, certainly comes into the spotlight as questions continue to linger over the pace at which he got his runs, suggesting that India might have taken a session or two to get their runs. Nevertheless, Pujara was adjudged Man of the Match for his effort. He eventually turned out to be the first Indian batsman to have faced more than 500 balls.

India kept Australia on the field for more than two days, and the visitors set the unwanted record of bowling as many as 210 overs, which is the most they have bowled against the hosts. India responded with a splendid 603 for 9 declared with Wriddhiman Saha getting his third Test century, and openers Murali Vijay and KL Rahul striking impressive half-centuries.

India finished at 603 for 9 declared, with Ravindra Jadeja hammering a rapid half-century, which helped India to extend their lead beyond 150. When Jadeja took out David Warner and Nathan Lyon inside the last 8 overs of Day Four, an Indian win looked imminent as no other team in the recent past had batted throughout the final day against a rampant India.

Smith and Renshaw began extremely well, but their lapses cost Australia all the momentum in the morning session. Renshaw, who had edged one to the slips in the first innings, fell to the trap set by Ishant Sharma. Ishant peppered Renshaw with short balls and surprised him with a fuller, in-swinging delivery which rapped him on the pads.

Four balls later, a horrible judgement saw Smith shouldering his arms on a delivery outside the leg stump, which was fuller than any other that he had faced till then off Jadeja. The ball turned sharply, beat Smith’s pads and knocked over the off-stump.

This was when Handscomb and Marsh got together and formed a partnership sturdy enough to decline India a 2-1 lead. For the fifth wicket, Handscomb and Marsh added 124 runs and kept India at bay for long enough to smash all hopes of a victory.

Brief scores:

Australia 451 & 204 for 6 (Shaun Marsh 53, Peter Handscomb 72*; Ravindra Jadeja 4 for 54) drew with India 603 for 9 decl. (Murali Vijay 82, KL Rahul 67, Cheteshwar Pujara 202, Wriddhiman Saha 117, Ravindra Jadeja 54*; Pat Cummins 4 for 106)

FULL CRICKET SCORECARD & BALL-BY-BALL COMMENTARY: India vs Australia, 3rd Test, Ranchi