Australia © Getty Images
Australia won the series 2-0 © Getty Images

India played out a thrilling day of cricket to force a draw in the fourth and final Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG). Australia tried their best but could not manage to change the score line of the series from 2-0. Devarchit Varma brings the highlights from the last day of yet another thrilling Border-Gavaskar Trophy 2014-15.

Australia’s overnight declaration: There was always a doubt whether Australia will be declaring overnight to try and force a result on a benign pitch at the SCG. Michael Clarke is known for such brave declarations, and Steven Smith joined the band when as the news of Australia’s declaration broke just minutes before the start of play, and India had to chase a target of 349. The pitch had absolutely nothing for the bowlers, and Indian batsmen did extremely well to keep Australia at bay for majority of the day to force a draw.

Murali Vijay’s brilliant knock: Australia would have certainly feared the fact that India will try and be aggressive, and with the pitch remaining supportive to the batsmen for majority of the five days they might as well try and chase it down. But the pace at which Indian openers would score was always a doubt, as Murali Vijay doesn’t play attacking strokes in this format and KL Rahul too was unlikely to do so. But to everyone’s surprise, Vijay, after a sluggish start, picked up the momentum by playing a couple of attacking strokes. Vijay was so imposing on the Australian bowlers, especially Nathan Lyon, that at one juncture, even the aggressive Kohli had to play the role of a good supporting batsman. Vijay struck seven fours and two sixes to score a solid 80 off 165 balls.

Steven Smith’s spectacular catch: The Australian captain has been a regular feature on all five days in this series of write-ups. On the final day, when Rohit Sharma and Vijay were flourishing, the former played a trademark loose stroke. But Smith, who was standing at wide slip, dived to his right and pulled off a stunning catch to send Rohit back into the hut.

Mitchell Starc’s burst: In the last two days of the Test, Mitchell Starc looked a completely different bowler whenever he has come around the wicket. Despite not having an in-swinging delivery in his arsenal, Starc produced deliveries with an angle that threatened the best of the batsmen. He removed Kohli when Australia needed the most, and Suresh Raina looked intimidated right from the moment he came out to bat. Taking Raina’s wicket would not have been very difficult for Starc but he did provide India a big scare by removing two of their batting stars in quick succession.

Suresh Raina’s misery: It was shocking to see the mental state Raina was in when he walked out to bat. For someone who is playing a Test after two years, one would give it his best shot. But Raina looked completely out of sorts, and got a pair in the fourth Test. His dismissal on the final day would have surely sent a panic wave in the dressing room. India wouldn’t be playing Test cricket for a very long time now, and it will be very, very difficult for him to force his way back into the side.

Ajinkya Rahane, Bhuvneshwar Kumar shine: Ravichandran Ashwin was dismissed when there were another 11 overs to be bowled. Indian tail in the past has surrendered meekly on many occasions and it looked like the tourists were set for yet another loss. But both Rahane and Bhuvneshwar dug in, and played out the entire quota of overs the hosts were left with to help India force a draw. Rahane, with his cool mind never looked troubled when the Australians were attacking with full force. On the other hand, Bhuvneshwar, who let the team down with his ordinary bowling, made up for it with his skilful batting in the tense and dying moments of the game.

(Devarchit Varma is a reporter with CricketCountry. He can be followed on Twitter @Devarchit)