A battered and bruised Team India would not surrender. In a display of courage perhaps unequalled in 74 years of Test matches against Australians who are considered the cricket world’s toughest opponents, Team India drew the third Test in Sydney and go to Brisbane with the scores 1-1. A series-winning chance is intact though the squad has sustained a huge number of injuries, besides losing its skipper to paternal leave who coincidentally was blessed with a daughter on the famous day his team did their “Dunkirk Act” at SCG under able replacement Ajinkya Rahane.
Courage can too readily be equated with sporting achievement but in this case bravery was the foremost quality that saw Ravichandran Ashwin, barely able to get up from bed with a sore back and Hanuma Vihari, who had strained a hamstring, fight a lengthy rearguard action right up to the draw of stumps. Such resolute resistance in the face of “sledging” (as derived from sledgehammer blows aimed at mental disintegration of batsmen) brought out the worst in the Australians, especially in captain Tim Paine, who was the white knight riding in to rescue his country’s cricket from an “Ugly Aussie” image.
A draw is also a result in Test cricket and a hard fought one often exemplifies an indomitable spirit unwilling to accept defeat. Such a position would not have been possible if not for Rishabh Pant playing like the fearless modern white ball cricketer and a stoic Cheteswar Pujara joining him in attack mode as if his younger colleague had inspired him. A glimpse of victory may have faded when Pant threw it away because he does not quite possess the temperament of specialist batsmen who treasure a milestone century.
The Aussies aimed at breaking the resistance with a new ball at red hot pace directed at the bodies of Ashwin and Vihari who have bruises to show as valorous badges. To rally from the depths of despair of 36 all out to win the second Test and then draw the third is an epic achievement and BCCI’s tweet in salute was apt — “Bruised. Broken. But never short of character”.