'I knew it was the end of my series; whatever impact I'd have, it had to be then'
Hanuma Vihari relives his incredible SCG rearguard with R Ashwin, when he batted with an injured leg he couldn't feel and a mind focused on playing out six balls at a time
Two feelings came to mind. One was pain, the other was relief. The pain was there and sigh of relief that I could do the job for the team. It was sweet pain. The pain was all worth it at the end of the day. If I hadn't been able to save the match, it would have hurt more. But because we saved the Test, the pain was not so painful.
After the Adelaide Test, you won't believe, we as a team we never spoke about the game. We only felt that it has never happened before, I don't think it will ever happen again. It was a freak innings. So let's move on and let's look at it as a three-Test series from Melbourne. Now if you look at it, we have won the series 2-0. The Indian team, the character and the fight we show, we leave everything on the ground. That's the hallmark of the Indian team. That's exactly how we played.
I read that article but we knew it, that every time that a good ball came, we edged it and it went straight to the fielder. It doesn't happen in cricket that way. If it does on a freak day, you accept it and move on. That is Test cricket at the end of the day. You can have days like that also. But we knew this would not happen very often - once in 60 years or so.
Hanuma Vihari: 'I play to win, even if batting with one hand or one leg'
India have left out Hanuma Vihari, but he may still be in their plans
Monga: Bruised and abused, India make their own luck at SCG
Ashwin and Vihari recall magical SCG partnership
Reactions to SCG: 'Bruised. Broken. Never short of character'
I hardly had any sleep. Again, with pain. One thing was pain and the other thing was I was happy and overwhelmed with the respect and love I got on the internet, in the messages I got. I think I slept for one hour and got up again at 6 in the morning. That is the kind of feeling I got. I would say for all the years of hard work I had done in first-class cricket, where there are no people watching you play and you have to go through the grind and struggle, and to have 1.3 billion watching back home and all the people in the world watching you save a Test match... That was the thought that came into my mind. Real satisfaction of going through the grind in the first-class arena and then achieving this, the satisfaction was really amazing.
Never. This series has been a ride of emotions. We have been through the ups and downs, we have seen everything you can see in sports in one series. The way the support staff handled it... at no point were they panicked. At no point did they lose hope. They believed that whoever walked onto the park, we are "Team India" and we will get 100% on the ground.
"At one point we joked that it felt like we were in a war with wounded soldiers. We will play the fourth Test with whoever is left standing. At one point it felt like that, but jokes apart the medical team did a tremendous job"
Huge credit to the physios and the trainers. They had a tough time dealing with so many injuries. At no point did I feel they were panicked or worried or anything like that. They were quite calm. Both the physios and both the trainers. At one point we joked that it felt like we were in a war with wounded soldiers. We will play the fourth Test with whoever is left standing. At one point it felt like that, but jokes apart the medical team did a tremendous job.
If you look at the first session and most part of the second session, we were looking good for a win. The way Rishabh [Pant] and [Cheteshwar] Pujara played. To be honest, once they got out, I don't think a win was a possibility. Even before my injury, Ash [R Ashwin] was struggling with his back, [Ravindra] Jadeja could have played only a few overs if needed. The draw came in when we knew that Ash couldn't run, and then when my hamstring injury happened, we knew we just had to bat out time. And it is not an easy task [for one partnership] to bat out 43 overs. Australia, day five, against that attack.
No, no, not really. The talk in the huddle was let's bat normally. If we get close, then we will look at it. Never thought of chasing the target or anything.
You can't play for a draw from the first session. You must remember he still played 130 balls. If he doesn't play that way [his natural game], the bowlers will be on top from the first session. So really good on him to play the way he did.
I knew it then and there that it was the end of my series. I knew it wasn't a cramp or anything minor. I knew straightaway that I had torn my hamstring. Because I have done that before, I knew how it feels. I couldn't walk or run. I knew it was a tear.
Before that also I had told Ash I can't run. Instinctively he ran and I didn't have a choice. Before that run I didn't know if I could jog, but when I took that run I told Ash, see, I can't even jog. I can only walk. That too with pain. So he said, 'Okay, let's not run and play out the overs.'
He can speak better Telugu. I can't speak Tamil. I can only understand Tamil.
He spoke Telugu too. In Tamil he said, "Aadu mama, aadu mama." Aadu mama is like play, play. He was speaking both. Main thing was patthu-patthu ball adu. Think of ten-ten balls.
I was counting my six. So if I play my six, I was waiting for Ash to play his six. I knew if I played my six balls, I would get four minutes of rest where he plays the other six. Six balls of my strike, six balls of his strike. We believed once when the session started, we just batted. But after that, in the mandatory overs in the last hour, we said we will focus even harder. We believed then that we could actually do it. Before that we were just batting and taking our time and making sure we get as close to 6 o'clock as possible. In that last one hour, we knew we could achieve something special.
"In the tea break I took the injection. After tea... I couldn't feel my right leg at all. The numbness of the painkiller meant I didn't have any pain when standing, but I couldn't even feel my leg. And then when I ran it hurt."
Exactly. That's when the communication was even more important. That's when the Tamil and Telugu conversation happened. We hardly spoke before that. After that we knew we were getting close, we were pepping each other up, it was only a matter of time. That is when conversations happened.
I got a painkiller injection. And got taped up. In my mind, I knew this is the innings I have to give it back to the team. I was thinking in my mind I have to do something and show the character and grit and determination. That I have to go and bat for two-and-a-half hours.
One tablet when I first got injured and then the injection during the tea break.
Yes. In the tea break I took the injection. After tea, it stopped hurting me but I felt a weakness in my right leg. I couldn't feel my right leg at all. The numbness of the painkiller meant I didn't have any pain when standing, but I couldn't even feel my leg. And then when I ran it hurt.
Only towards the end when I was dropped [by Tim Paine]. Mitchell Starc bowled a brilliant spell. He was reverse-swinging the ball, and it was moving late. That was the only phase I thought I have to focus a little bit harder. If you look at the match, that was the only phase where they troubled us. Initially, Ash had trouble with the short ball but after that he was comfortable.
The thing is, the height they release from, and their pace, they hit the wicket hard. It is challenging but we showed in this Test series if you take up the challenge, then you can wear any bowler down. That's exactly what we did. We wore them down and we capitalised on any loose balls we got. That is very rare from them. Only when they are tired or once you have batted 70-80 overs, then you tend to get some runs out of them.
And he bowls those lengths. He bowls hard lengths. Not like he is coming and releasing it on a length. He hits it really hard. And it hits high up on the bat. So you have to be doubly focused on him.
You can only experience it. You can't explain it. You can't explain how it feels facing up against them.
In the last [third] Test, against Josh Hazlewood, I made a small adjustment to bat outside the crease. He is someone who hits the length consistently, so I wanted to make him bowl a different length. That was a tactical change. But other than that I batted the way I did in West Indies and New Zealand. I always felt I was batting well throughout the series but the runs never came in the first two Tests - I got a pretty good ball in the first Test, threw my wicket away in the second and then got run out in the first innings in Sydney. That didn't really help with the amount of runs I scored, but I always felt I was batting well.
In hindsight, I wouldn't say the run was on. It was an extraordinary piece of fielding from Hazlewood but still it wasn't necessary on my part to take a risky single. The wicket was playing so well that I could have waited and ground them, had a partnership with Pujara and got a big score. But yeah that was a brain-fade moment for me.
I don't think I can. Sometimes you feel there is a run. In a split second you make the decision. Because I have stepped out and the momentum was there and the danger end was also mine. I thought I could reach. I didn't expect that kind of fielding from Josh. He was in the middle of a spell. He had bowled three-four overs in the spell and to come out and do that, we have to give credit to him as well. But as I said it wasn't unnecessary.
Yes. Exactly that is what I thought. But it didn't pan out well.
I am really blessed to be part of this side. To be part of an Indian side winning abroad, winning twice in Australia, and the team management showing so much faith in me... The faith they show in me, I am really blessed and happy. I just want to repay that faith with good performances, whether it is home or abroad.
Yeah, yeah, I was waking up at 5am and watching it on TV. I didn't miss a single ball. I was really happy and rooting for us to win.
I was gutted that I wasn't part of the historic Test at Gabba. You feel disappointed, but the reason I came back was I want to get fit as soon as possible and make sure I am available for selection for the last two Tests [against England]. That was why I came back.
I am in NCA [in Bengaluru] already. I reached yesterday and will start rehab tomorrow.
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo