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Ranchi among 'toughest conditions I've played in' - Peter Handscomb

Peter Handscomb has made a stellar start to his Test career Associated Press

It's been an eventful tour for Peter Handscomb.

Setting aside his batting, which brought only modest returns in the first two Tests, Handscomb has been swept up in the whirl of controversy - both real and imagined - that has marked the series.

He was there in the middle with Steven Smith in Bengaluru, suggesting his captain look to the dressing room for advice on whether to review a decision; he was then derided by sceptics who doubted his explanation that he didn't fully understand the DRS protocols; and it was his hand on Smith's shoulder in the image that was used by the official broadcaster to suggest Smith was mocking Virat Kohli's shoulder injury. The Hand(scomb) of God, if you will.

But it was his hands on the bat, soft and deft, that played such a major role in saving Australia in Ranchi. It was his unbeaten 72, much of which came in the vital 124-run partnership with Shaun Marsh on the final day, that helped steer Australia to safety.

"Yeah it was pretty awesome," said Handscomb. "To get into that position that we were in wasn't great to start with, but I think we always had belief in ourselves that we could definitely hold on for the draw. I think we've all been batting well this series, so if it wasn't myself or SOS [Marsh] to stand up in this Test it would have been someone else after us to come in do their job because we have been backing ourselves and we are all feeling really good."

Since he came into the Australian side amid the post-Hobart shake up during the home series against South Africa, Handscomb has been remarkably consistent. In his seven Tests, he has made two centuries, three half-centuries and has been not out on four occasions.

And while the first two Tests brought limited returns with the bat, his Ranchi resistance could be a defining moment in his young Test career: a backs-to-the-wall innings, fending off the weariness of spending 210 overs in the field and absorbing a mountain of pressure. Hansdcomb also did his best to keep the strike at the end where Marsh might have been more vulnerable. There were a lot of footmarks outside the left-hander's off stump, which Jadeja repeatedly bowled into to get most of his wickets.

"That's definitely up there with the toughest conditions I've played in," said Handscomb. "A Test wicket on day five in India against the two best spinners in the world is obviously going to be tough, and it's great that myself and Shaun could find a way.

"Especially Shaun. He had to deal with the rough outside off stump to [Ravindra] Jadeja for most of the day which is an unbelievable effort from him to survive as long as he did, which was great for the team.

"In terms of plans or anything out there, we didn't really have much to say to each other. We kept coming to the middle of the wicket and saying 'yeah, you good?' and it was like 'yeah, I'm good', and into the next over. We both had our own plans and that's what we were going to go with."

Handscomb admitted he was hoping Kohli would shake hands and call the draw earlier, but believed the sustained pressure of the last day in Ranchi would stand him in good stead in Dharamsala.

"I've said before that I have been feeling good over here so far and just been finding ways to get out so it was nice to get that feeling of batting time, facing a lot of balls out in the middle. That helps coming into the next Test having that self-belief, knowing that now I can do it and making sure I can do it next Test as well."

The deciding Test has a fittingly dramatic backdrop; the snow-capped Himalayas will witness the presentation of the Border-Gavaskar trophy to one captain or the other. The Australian camp has been trying to balance their appreciation of the opportunity open to them - the chance to win a series in India for the first time since 2004 - with the need to remain true to the tactics that have put them in a position few would have predicted before the tour.

"Yeah, we're definitely aware of it. We know how hard it is to come over here and win the series, but I guess all we are really focusing on is the Test itself and not being too overawed by the significance of it. If we can go out and just go with those same plans that we've had in the previous three Tests then hopefully it looks after itself and potentially create our own little bit of history.

"It's obviously an exciting Test to come into… with scores level and the series still wide open is awesome. Already we can walk away from this series with our heads held high, and if we keep performing the way we are in this final Test we can definitely come away with a win."