India hang on for a draw


Published: Saturday 10th January 2015 by The News Editor

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India hung on to draw the fourth and final Test against Australia in Sydney as Ajinkya Rahane and Bhuvneshwar Kumar frustrated the home bowlers.

Australia appeared on course for victory as India slipped from 178 for two to 217 for seven but, on a pitch that had offered little throughout, the decision to take the new ball soon after the seventh wicket had fallen backfired for captain Steven Smith with his bowlers unable to find any further movement.

That allowed Rahane and Kumar to steer the tourists through to the close, with Rahane finishing on 38 not out and Kumar an unbeaten 20, with India 97 short of their victory target as they made 252 for seven.

Taking the new ball was a rare mis-step from Smith, who was named man of the match and man of the series after taking over from Michael Clarke, who was injured in the first Test. Smith has steered Australia to an emotional 2-0 series win after the death of Philip Hughes prior to the series opener.

“I thought we were going to get there, but unfortunately we didn’t,” Smith said on Sky Sports 2.

“There was a little bit of spin and a few opportunities that didn’t go our way. It was one of those days. The wicket was still playing pretty well, for the fast bowlers it was still up and down, and I thought the boys toiled well today.

“It’s been a good series for me, batting out there and captaining these boys. I’ve had a great time. We couldn’t quite get home today but I’ve really enjoyed being able to captain the boys throughout this series.”

After Australia declared on 251 for six at the close of play on Friday, India were set a target of 349.

Murali Vijay’s 80 helped them set a solid platform and raised hopes of a push for victory as he guided them to 177 for two before edging Josh Hazlewood behind.

But Australia were starting to find some reverse swing and they would soon converting their chances.

When Virat Kohli followed for 46, pushing Mitchell Starc into the slips, the wickets began to fall quickly, with Suresh Raina and Wriddhamin Saha out for ducks and Ravichandran Ashwin making just one.

At the end of the next over, with India on 218 for seven, Smith took the new ball, and Australia’s chances swiftly dried up as they went back to bowling short deliveries.

Rahane and Kumar saw off 12 overs before handshakes signalled the end of the match.

“It has been a hard fought series,” India captain Kohli said in the presentations. “We wanted to play hard cricket, give a fight, and that is what the boys have done. In Adelaide, and even today we thought we had a chance, but Australia kept coming back.

” The way they have composed themselves after the (Phillip Hughes) incident and come out is commendable. At tea time, I was not 100% sure if we wanted to go for the target. After Vijay got out, I thought why not take a chance, we are not coming back here for a while, if it does not happen it does not.

“The intent and character the side is showing is important. 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.”

Both teams will now turn their attentions to the coming World Cup, but for Australia this was a series win made all the more significant for the poignant tributes to Hughes throughout.

“It certainly has been very sad to lose one of our good mates,” Smith added. “Throughout the whole series we’ve tried to do our best to win this series for Philip and we’ve done that. It was an outstanding job to win 2-0.”

Published: Saturday 10th January 2015 by The News Editor

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