The fourth test between Australia and India at the SCG has ended in a draw leaving the series result at 2-0 to the Aussies.
Beginning the day with a declaration, Australia were aggressive from the outset in search of another match win to go with the celebrations of a series victory at the close of play. India would have to hit a record 349 to win or face the challenge of batting through the day on a tough pitch for pride.
Rahul and Vijay dug in early and nearly put on fifty for the first wicket before Nathan Lyon caught the glove of Rahul for 16 with a bit of extra bounce from the decaying wicket sending it to short leg.
Murali Vijay looked eager to bounce back from a first innings duck and was batting well, showing the full face of the bat against the swinging ball.
Vijay and Sharma were wearing down the bowlers, batting through lunch. After the break a quick-fire chance flew to Shaun Marsh at short cover, but the ball was grassed much to the disappointment of the Aussie captain.
Steve Smith took the game into his own hands literally with an athletic and intuitive dive to his right in second slip off the bowling of Shane Watson to remove Sharma for the second wicket.
Virat Kohli had just over a session and a half to bat to lead his country to a respectable draw. With not much batting to come after the in form captain, the pressure was on though even this did not shake Kohli. He and Vijay put on a stubborn 74 runs, ticking down the remaining overs for Australia.
Battling fatigue, Josh Hazlewood reignited the innings for Australia as Vijay slashed at a rising ball outside the off stump. The reaction was more of relief than joy for the Aussies as Kohli still remained at the crease.
It took a good spell of bowling by Mitchell Starc and Hazlewood to remove the Indian captain and signal hope of a win. Drifting the ball away from the stumps, Starc enticed Kohli to drive at the ball only to have him edge to first slip and Shane Watson claim a sharp catch.
Kohli’s wicket signalled a mini-collapse as Starc used the adrenaline to trap Raina LBW with a gem of a delivery from over the wicket.
Nathan Lyon tossed the bowl up with increased confidence that could be attributed to the removal of Kohli and Vijay. The wicket was too much for Saha who could not do anything about a ball that hit a rough patch of grass and did not bounce, trapped LBW.
With just under 20 overs remaining Australia had four wickets to take from a tail that had offered little in the series. Ravi Ashwin played the spin of Lyon well, but had no answer for a Hazlewood seamer that caught him LBW.
Rahane and Kumar handled the nervous energy well. The two remained at the crease for the last 11 overs hitting out against the bowlers as Smith had the field up in search of a wicket.
“Tough day in the office for us. We did not get the variable bounce we were expecting on a day five pitch. There were a couple of chances that did not come off the glove and things like that,” commented Smith at the close of play.
“Very good series win, that is the most important thing for us.”
Virat Kohli was less than one hundred runs behind Smith’s accrued total and impressed plenty of people with his beautiful batting technique and ability.
“It has been a hard fought series. We wanted to play hard cricket, give a fight, and that is what the boys have done,” Kohli commented after the drawn result in Sydney.
Clearly impressed with some of the achievements of his younger players, the newly crowned captain did not hold back the praise in the face of a convincing defeat.
“These guys have stepped up and shown they have the character and game at the international level, Rahul especially after the kind of debut he had. It is tough in Australia, I have experienced that before,” Kohli said.
Both sides will join with England in a triangular one-day series beginning this Friday back at the SCG with Australia hosting England.