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 Hanuma Vihari and 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 at the SCG.
“Chasing 400 in Sydney was never going to be easy, as the ball was going up and down. 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,” Ashwin told host broadcasters after the match.
“Touring Australia is never easy so Vihari can be proud of himself. It was a knock equal to scoring a hundred. I was just telling the batting coach during the lunch break that I have never left the SCG without a fifty, this is a venue where I have done well with the bat and today’s innings is right up there,” he added.
Ashwin said the result made the dressing room environment electric and added that facing pacer Pat Cummins was a ‘difficult’ task.
“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,” the spinner said.
“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,” Ashwin added.
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.