Rahane: Plan was to fight till the end without thinking of result

Rishabh Pant, Cheteshwar Pujara, Hanuma Vihari and R Ashwin starred with the bat as India pulled off a remarkable draw, leaving the series locked at 1-1 ahead of the final Test in Brisbane.

Australia skipper Tim Paine looks on as India captain Ajinkya Rahane congratulates R Ashwin after India drew the third Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground.   -  GETTY IMAGES

R. Ashwin and Hanuma Vihari exhibited great resilience and grit as India pulled off a remarkable draw in a tense and thrilling third Test against Australia on Monday.

Against a hostile Australian attack, India resumed at 99 for the loss of two wickets requiring 309 runs to win. At close, India finished at 334 for the loss of five wickets. The series now heads to Brisbane where the decider will be played with both the teams locked 1-1.

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"Our talk coming this morning was to show character and fight till the end. Not to think about the result. Really happy with the way we fought especially today but also throughout the game, even in the first innings when Australia were 200 for 2 and getting them all out for 338 was really good," India skipper Rahane said.

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Chasing a tall target, Rishabh Pant got a promotion up the order as he batted ahead of Vihari and the wicketkeeper-batsman slammed a brilliant 97 off just 118 deliveries and injected hope of an Indian victory.

"Credit to him (Pant). We made that strategy but in the end it is all about the player executing the plan," Rahane said.

However, Nathan Lyon denied Pant a century and Hazlewood dismissed Pujara to swing the match in Australia's favour. With five down, India needed consolidation -- Ashwin and Vihari batted their skin out to save the match.

"There are few areas we can improve on but special mention to Vihari and Ashwin. The way they batted in the end and showed character was really good to see," Rahane added. 

Ashwin, on his part, said that he was batting well in the nets and that chasing 400 plus in Sydney was never going to be easy.

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"The atmosphere in the dressing room is electric. In Test cricket we don't get a lot of draws, it was a really exciting last session. I just went to Pujara and told him, you sold me down the river in both the innings. Cummins was bowling in a different league altogether.

"There was a bit of double bounce, so it was difficult against Cummins. I think facing Bumrah in the nets is not easy. We have bowlers who can bowl in the 150s. I have been batting well in the nets, so it was great to spend some time in the middle. Chasing 400 in Sydney was never going to be easy, as the ball was going up and down," Ashwin said.

Ashwin further praised Vihari as the duo defended everything that was thrown at them. Overall India batted 131 overs - the most number of overs batted in the fourth innings of a Test since 1980.

"That knock by Pant set us up. After Pujara and Pant's wicket and with Vihari injured, it was going to be difficult to go for the win. Touring Australia is never easy so Vihari can be proud of himself. It was a knock equal to scoring a hundred," he added. 

Australia skipper Tim Paine admitted that dropping catches hurt his side and that he is looking forward to the Brisbane Test match.

"I thought we created enough chances to win the game, this one's a tough one to swallow. Our bowlers were superb, Lyon bowled well. Just that we (especially me) didn't hold onto our catches. Looking forward to Brisbane," Paine, who dropped three catches (including that of Pant (twice) and Vihari said.

"We didn't play our best in the last two games, but we were somewhat good with the bat in this Test. There were a few positives for us, our bowlers created plenty of chances. Today was a whole-hearted effort from the boys, just that things didn't go our way," he added.

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