After walking away with a famous draw at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG), India's stand-in skipper Ajinkya Rahane on Monday said that the result feels as good as a win and added it was good to see everyone contributing to the team's cause.
Ravichandran Ashwin and Hanuma Vihari batted out 258 balls to help India walk away with an epic draw and head into the final Test at the Gabba, with the series level at 1-1.
"This is as good as winning a Test match, when you come abroad and play a match like this, it was really special. Credit to Ashwin and Vihari for the way they batted, Pujara, Rohit, Pant everyone chipped into the team's cause. But credit to Vihari and Ashwin for batting 2.5 hours in the end," said Rahane while replying to an query during the virtual press conference.
"We knew we had to take it one session at a time, we were not thinking about our target. Pujara and Pant batted well for us, but once they got out, unfortunately, Vihari had the injury and because of that, he had to play with a certain approach. Credit to all the guys for the way we played and this feels as good as a win," he added.
Talking about Vihari's 23-run knock off 161 balls, Rahane said: "See, Vihari was batting really well in the last three Tests. He was not able to get a big score but today we all saw his special knock. I think his knock was more special than his 100, the way he batted after being injured, he showed motivation and he hung in there for the team. It was really good, it was all about what the team wanted and credit to him for the way he handled himself. It was really special to see how he managed his injury.
"Australia has a world-class bowling attack, all three fast bowlers are great. It was all about playing an entire attack and not against an individual, it was all about showing the character till the end, I am really proud of the guys. We all were disappointed after the Adelaide Test, but the atmosphere was good, everyone was backing each other and everyone was trying to help each other out," said Rahane.
Rishabh Pant was also promoted to the number five position and the wicket-keeper batsman played a counter-attacking knock of 97. Talking about Pant's knock, Rahane said: "I think we know that he is a quality player, left-hand and right-hand combination was crucial for us especially today. We promoted Rishabh to number five, the way he counter-attacked was pretty good. He got out on 97 but it was a crucial knock for us. I am really happy for Rishabh, the way he batted today, it was a really special knock.
"See, about Pant's batting number, we had the strategy of promoting him and we talked about it. As management, you can make strategies. But in the end, it is up to to the individual to go out there and do the job, credit to him for managing the innings as he did. We know Pant can win the game for us from any position, we have the belief in him and he is improving day by day," he added.
Batting out 258 balls with a fierce home team throwing everything it had up its sleeves is no mean feat. But the Indian duo of Vihari and R Ashwin stood ground and managed to do just that as they eked out a draw in what was nothing short of an action-packed fifth day. Batting out 131 overs -- the most India have batted in the fourth innings of a Test since 1980 -- showed exactly what Ashwin meant when he spoke about playing like true warriors at the end of the fourth day's play at the SCG.
A hamstring injury notwithstanding, Vihari hit an unbeaten 161-ball 23 while Ashwin hit 39 off 128 balls as the two defended away any hopes Australia had of registering a win. With an injured Ravindra Jadeja waiting in the pavilion, it was important for the two to ensure they saw India to the end and that is just what they did as the players shook hands with an over left.
( With inputs from ANI )
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