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Sydney Test: Tributes pour in as Ashwin, Vihari save match

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R Ashwin and Hanuma Vihari deny Australians a win in the third Test of the series

They kept chirping, especially Australian captain Tim Paine, who was having a little more than just a casual banter with R Ashwin. The Australians had fielders crowded around the Indian batsmen’s bat. Their brilliant pace attack kept hurling it over after over.

And, so, too, was off-spinner Nathan Lyon, as the scorching Sydney sun in the Australian summer shone on his shiny bald pate.

But there was no chink in stoic India’s armour.

Hanuma Vihari and R Ashwin led a stellar rearguard on the fifth and final day of the third Test to force a memorable draw on Monday.

It was an attritional day with Test cricket at its vintage best. It was a fascinating session. Vihari and Ashwin stone-walled the Aussie attack for an astonishing 259 deliveries. And it couldn’t have come on a better day than on Rahul Dravid’s birthday, who is better known as ‘The Wall.’

The stellar effort showed tremendous resilience with Ashwin mentoring Vihari in his mother tongue Tamil, which loosely translated into English meant: “If we manage to play 10,10 balls, we can see this through.”

And the cricketing world doffed their hats to the duo and India for the way they fought back in this decisive Test.

Indian legend Sachin Tendulkar took to social media to congratulate the team.

“Really proud of #TeamIndia! Special mention to @RishabhPant17, @cheteshwar1, @ashwinravi99 and @Hanumavihari for the roles they’ve played brilliantly. Any guesses in which dressing room the morale will be high? #OneTeamOneCause #AUSvIND,” Tendulkar wrote on Twitter.

Former Australian captain Ricky Ponting praised the gumption shown by the Indians and couldn’t wait for the fourth Test to get going in Brisbane from January 15.

“Loved the fight and determination of India all day today. Starting with Pant and Pujara, and then for Vihari and Ashwin to withstand Australia and look largely in control for most of the day was very impressive. Can’t wait for Brisbane now. #AUSvIND,” Ponting said on Twitter.

Former India skipper Krishnamachari Srikkanth said: “Hats off to both @Hanumavihari and @ashwinravi99 to draw the Test! A lot has to be said about vihari for his grit and determination even after being injured! This knock is as good as any hundred in Test cricket! Ashwin always had the talent to be a main allrounder! #AUSvsIND”

Former England captain Michael Vaughan was left amazed and had special words for Pant. “Bloody Love Test Cricket … This Indian team has shown in the last 2 Tests Great skill but more so much more mental resilience … btw I believe @RishabhPant17 is a special player who will have a period of dominance in all formats soon !! #AUSvsIND,” wrote Vaughan.

Former India opener-turned-commentator Aakash Chopra kept it plain and simple. “Incredible India #AusvInd #Proud,” Chopra said.

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