Australia v India, 4th Test, Sydney, 5th day January 10, 2015

India hold on for tense draw


India 475 (Kohli 147, Rahul 111, Starc 3-106) and 7 for 252 (Vijay 80) drew with Australia 7 for 572 dec (Smith 117, Warner 101, Rogers 95, Shami 5-112) and 6 for 251 dec (Smith 71, Burns 66, Rogers 56, Ashwin 4-105)
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Play 03:46
'Lyon no longer just a support bowler'

Three wickets needed, a wearing SCG pitch, the light fading, India trying to cling on for a draw - it could have been the 2008 finish all over again. But Michael Clarke was in the commentary box this time, not out in the middle with ball in hand, and Ajinkya Rahane and Bhuvneshwar Kumar held their nerve, and held off the Australian charge. Steven Smith's side instead had to settle for a draw and a 2-0 series victory.

At tea on the final day, India needed 189 for an unlikely win with eight wickets in hand; Virat Kohli and M Vijay were at the crease. But both men fell soon after the resumption, and with the ball reverse-swinging, the pitch providing variable bounce for Nathan Lyon, and the momentum with Australia, they were followed inside by Suresh Raina, Wriddhiman Saha and R Ashwin.

But then came the match-saving partnership between Rahane and Bhuvneshwar, who survived for nearly 12 overs. Bhuvneshwar handled the final one of the match from Lyon, confident enough to even drive the first delivery to the long-off boundary with all the fieldsmen up, and India reached safety. It was a draw, but after their loss in similar circumstances in Adelaide, it was also an achievement.

Both men showed impressive calmness, Rahane doing his best to take most of the bowling himself, Bhuvneshwar able to keep Lyon's sharp offbreaks down instead of flying to the assortment of men close-in on the leg side. Smith tried all four of his frontline bowlers in the dying stages, but it was to no avail; India finished on 7 for 252, with Rahane on 38 and Bhuvneshwar on 20.

Notably, Australia did not break through in the final 10 overs of the match, after Smith took the new Kookaburra. He might later have reflected that a reverse-swinging bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. Hazlewood, in particular, was getting the old ball to tail in to India's right-handers. Starc proved a handful with it as well, but they were unable to get the new ball to talk.

The session had started with all results possible, although India's victory chances required a change in approach after they seemed focussed on the draw for most of the day. Vijay had twice taken Lyon for 16 in an over earlier, but when he tried to lift the tempo against Hazlewood's pace his attempted cut resulted in an easy take for Brad Haddin, and he was out for 80.

Kohli followed on 46 when Starc got one to straighten and caught the edge through to Shane Watson at first slip, and thus started a mini-collapse that had the Sydney crowd roaring. Raina completed a pair in his first Test for two and a half years, trapped lbw when Starc moved a ball back in, and India's 2 for 178 had become 5 for 203.

It was 6 for 208 when Saha was done by a Lyon offbreak that stayed perilously low and struck him directly in line with middle stump. The last hour began with Australia four wickets from victory, and they claimed one when Ashwin, who had held out for 22 balls for his single run, was lbw when Hazlewood reversed the old ball in late and struck him in front.

But then came the new ball, and as it turned out, new hope for India. Hazlewood and Starc had been miserly all day, both conceding less than two an over. That helped to build the pressure as Lyon toiled at the other end, but for the first four hours of the day India handled the situation well, losing only one wicket in each session.

Occasionally India, or more specifically Vijay, went on the attack. Sixteen runs came from Lyon's penultimate over before tea, as Vijay used his feet to lift a six and a four down the ground, and swept another boundary. Another 16 had come in a Lyon over before lunch, including a lofted six over midwicket from Vijay, although in the same over Vijay edged a ball that ricocheted off Haddin and lobbed just out of reach of Watson at slip.

It was that kind of day for the Australians, half chances falling just out of reach and, on occasion, being dropped. Shaun Marsh at short cover put down a tough when Vijay had 42 and the bowler, Ryan Harris, responded in frustration next delivery when Vijay pushed the ball back to him and Harris hurled it at the stumps, only to see it bounce in the footmarks and over the head of the wicketkeeper Brad Haddin for four overthrows.

In the next over, Rohit Sharma pushed at Watson and edged wide of slip, where Smith hurled himself to his right to clutch a stunning one-handed catch. The only other wicket to fall in the first two-thirds of the day was KL Rahul's, who advanced to Lyon but failed to get to the pitch of the ball and was caught off his glove at backward short leg.

Australia nearly made it two from two deliveries when Rohit's first ball resulted in a perilously close stumping chance; the TV umpire decided that there was enough doubt as to Rohit's foot position to reprieve him. At that point, India were all about defence, trying to get themselves into a solid position before any thoughts of victory entered their minds.

Not surprisingly, Australia had declared on their overnight score and set India 349 to win. For the third time in the series, the match went down to the last hour of the fifth day. There was no repeat of the dramatic Australian win in Adelaide, but nor was it the tamer draw of Melbourne. This result was somewhere in between, thrilling in its way, but with neither side coming out on top.

And in the end, 2-0 seemed a fitting scoreline in a series in which Australia were more consistently strong all round, but India fought hard and showed impressive resolve.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @brydoncoverdale

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on January 13, 2015, 15:31 GMT

    @SAM ROY. What a joke this is.You are putting srilanka above India in onedays.For your kind information india have won all the 3 format of the icc tournaments.Your teams recent form against india has been pathetic.From last two years I think india has won a minimum of 90 percent of their oneday internationals against srilanka no matter where ever these matches has been played.Also recently your team was demolished by India IN the odi series BY a margin of 5_0. You guys don't stand a chance in the world cup.

  • sam on January 13, 2015, 9:23 GMT

    The problem with other cricket fans from India and yours truly is very simple. I don't mind losing a test series if it can result in winning the next series. Our plan should be to win a test series in Australia and SA. If for that we need to tour Australia and SA every 2 years and lose; let it be. That's the only thing that is missing from India's resume as a cricket playing nation. It is the second best limited overs team (or may be third best after SL if you consider its limited overs consistency in ICC tournaments) after Australia and has enjoyed most success after Australia so no issues there in limited overs.

  • Dummy4 on January 12, 2015, 7:56 GMT

    @JAMES5. I know mate that our pace bowling department is pathetic and you can't win a test match unless and until your bowlers don't take 20 wickets.That has been a big big problem for india offlate and ishant sharma getting injured before Sydney test dint help the cause either.

  • Naresh on January 12, 2015, 7:46 GMT

    IRFAN PATHAN, RISHI DHAWAN, VIJAYKUMAR(Andhra) need to be given a go. Pathan will provide the left armer - Sreenath Arvind is another left armer. Rishi Dhawan could make a good all rounder. Vijaykumar is a wicket taker in Ranji matches. Umesh Yadav, Varun Aaron , Ishant should be sent back to domestic cricket. A coach needs to work with Shami who lacks consistency. Bhuvi can only be chosen in swing conditions.

  • Dummy4 on January 12, 2015, 6:34 GMT

    We (Indian's) need bowlers, who can took 20 wkts in a Test match to Win. Also with all right hand pacers our bowling attack was too predictable. Need a left armer in the bowling line ups.. Irfan Pathan was best, but we all know how Sir Greg has finished his career well before his time ends.

  • John on January 12, 2015, 4:48 GMT

    Continuing on about comparing today's batsmen with greats of the past. Apart from helmets and shorter boundaries (ropes), batsmen today have massive bats. Its a bit like comparing wooden tennis racquets of the 1960's with those of today. Even Freddie Flintoff on BBL commentary noted the bats used today are twice as thick as his bats from just 8 years ago. Today a prod forward is just as likely to see the ball rocket straight off the bat to the fence, the mass of the bat did most of the work (momentum), the timing of the prod did the rest.

    Dare I suggest that batting prior to the 90's was a different game. Strength and bat speed, as well as great timing was needed to score boundaries. There was far greater variation in pitches and always you had to make sure you weren't struck, especially on the head.

    So yes, today's batsmen and bowlers are more scientifically trained, but you cannot compare them to the older players. In many respects, its almost a different game.

  • John on January 12, 2015, 3:26 GMT

    All this tripe comparing the batsmen's scores and the infantile (mainly from India supporters) of "my man is better than your man" reminds me of schoolyard cricket twerps when I was in year 3. What is for certain is that Smith, Kholi, Warner and Vijay were miles ahead of anyone else during this series. Vijay and Warner did very well on their last tours of England and SA, Smith and Kholi not so well. Over these 3 tours, I would suggest Vijay and Warner a mile in front. Comparing with past tours is ridiculous. Pitches and weather conditions are different for every tour as is the bowling attack. Before the 1990's, bats were completely different, fields were not roped off and prior to the 1980's no one had helmets. For my money, the best Indian batsman I have ever seen was Gavaskar. And if you disagree, I don't give a rats. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. :)

  • Rajkumar on January 12, 2015, 3:24 GMT

    @Greatest_Game--you just termed India'a 0-2 loss to Aus 'humiliating'.If losing a 4 test series by 0-2 is humiliating (one defeat by a margin of 40 odd runs) how about losing 0-5,0-2 etc by teams by innings.(by Eng and SL respectively both ranked above India in rankings).If SL/Eng had traveled as much as India have in the last year they would have been down at #9 with ZERO points.PERIOD.First SL should win a SINGLE test in SA/IND/AUS before attacking other countries' away performances.when it comes to touring they have a fluke series victory against Eng this year barring which the cupboard is empty.and Ind drew with SA last time at home..there's nothing pathetic about it.Way better than SL's performance against them at home.

  • randolf on January 12, 2015, 0:26 GMT

    Virat Kohli and Steve Smith in this series show why it's difficult to compare players of different eras. They're a few notches above the other batsmen who played the series. But their bowling oppositions were not half as potent as any of the legendary combinations about which so much is written. But we must accept their performances for exactly what they are in the specific era. Smith is said to have broken Bradman's All Time record in Aus-Ind encounters; but that bowling quality he played against, any average batsman can break any record. And nobody should look at legends such as Sunil Gavascar and say that he only averaged in the low 50s - that average is worth 80 against these toothless attacks these days. Averages give wrong impressions of certain batsmen too. Eg, Viv Richards' low 50s average was not due to any bowler's command over him - it was how he played - the same thing can be said about Lara. Judge a player by his opposition and his impact.

  • james on January 11, 2015, 20:12 GMT

    DRAMIT SINGH and as for the assertion that i and others have attacked india and its fans despite their decent showing. I have only replied with facts to innaccurate attacks from indian fan labelling aus a our pathetic team who cant win overseas to show that we can and have while your lot haven't. Ive actually acknowledged on a number of occasions the good showing of india. I just took offence to the suggestion our win was not legitimate and innaccurate slurs on MJ, Smith and Warner. If the sour grapes from your side would stay out of it and let us enjoy our win like you got to in 2013 i doubt that thered be 454 comments. Like i said we'll probably lose next time but you wont here unless you have good fastmen and making excuses that it was some external force or conspiracy instead of poor bowling will perpetuate your no series win record here.

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