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India survives scare to earn hard-fought draw

Australian bowlers trigger middle-order collapse before Rahane-Bhuvneshwar resistance; series ends 2-0 in home side's favour

India survives scare to earn hard-fought draw - Cricket News
A day that was meandering along at a sedate pace suddenly came to life. The sleeping giant, the surface at the Sydney Cricket Ground, played all sorts of tricks as India's middle order caved in yet again under pressure. M Vijay missed a century, Virat Kohli fell short of a fifty, Suresh Raina had a pair, Wriddhiman Saha made a duck and suddenly the ghosts of Adelaide loomed large. That there wasn't a repeat was due to the efforts of Ajinkya Rahane (38 not out) and Bhuvneshwar Kumar (20 not out) who batted out 11.3 overs as India, that finished with 252 for 7, squeezed out a draw as the four-Test series ended 2-0 in Australia's favour on Saturday (January 10).
 
Resuming on 160 for 2 after tea, India pressed forward as Vijay and Kohli scored a succession of boundaries in the first three overs of the session before a rampaging Australian attack hit back to pick up four wickets to smell the toffee.
 
Vijay (80), who curbed his natural instincts for large parts of his vigil, even played a couple of audacious heaves, but appeared to have been carried away as an attempted flay past point took the edge through to Brad Haddin to bring about a complete breakdown of the innings. Aiding Australia further was Mitchell Starc who ran in hard, bowled with purpose and induced Kohli's edge as Watson took a sharp catch at second slip to send him on his way for 46.
 
Suresh Raina, out for a golden duck in the first innings, then walked in to three slips, a leg slip and a forward short leg in place. Quite predictably, he played back to a delivery that didn't quite rise to be trapped plumb in front to leave India reeling at 201 for 5 with 21.3 overs still left to play.
 


The inundations on the surface brought about invariable bounce and Wriddhiman Saha fell to one such delivery that kept low. He played back to a Nathan Lyon delivery, as the ball hit him plumb in front.
 
With India's hopes of salvaging a draw fast slipping away, Rahane took charge and quickly changed gears from attack to defense. Playing with the calmness that has been a characteristic of his batting all summer, he eased the nerves for a short while before Josh Hazlewood threw daggers in the Indian hearts with the wicket of R Ashwin. However, replays suggested the ball would have missed leg stump.
 
At that stage, India needed to bat out a minimum of 11.4 overs, and with the new ball imminent, the signs were ominous. But Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who had an ordinary match with the ball, lent a touch of calm and played with confidence both against pace and spin. Showing impeccable technique and patience on the face of a sustained attack, he blunted the bowling to considerably reduce the pressure on Rahane.
 
That India got into a decent position at tea was largely due to the efforts of Vijay, whose 255-ball vigil was one that was largely played with a degree of caution. The free-flowing drives and wristy flicks were conspicuous by their absence as the intent seemed clearly on occupying the crease and biding time. He was assisted by KL Rahul (16) in the first hour, followed by a vital association with Rohit Sharma (39) for most parts of the next 90 minutes.

Steve Smith's blinder at second slip to dismiss Rohit would perhaps go down as the catch of the season. More importantly, it gave Australia hopes of pulling off another incredible win. But on the day, it was Rahane who quietly went about his business without a fuss to help India earn an honourable draw.

To see the full scorecard of the fourth Test between Australia and India in Sydney, click here

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