India survived a batting collapse in a nervous final session to force a draw in the fourth test against Australia at the Sydney Cricket Ground yesterday, leaving the hosts 2-0 winners of the series.
The tourists, who were handed a victory target of 349 when Australia declared at 251-6 before the start of play, tumbled from 160-2 at tea to 217-7 midway through the session.
However, Ajinkya Rahane (38 not out) and Bhuvneshwar Kumar (20 not out) stopped the rot and had guided India to 252-7 when Australia ran out of overs in the early evening gloom.
Despite some disciplined bowling from the Australians on a turning pitch, only one Indian batsman had fallen in each of the first two sessions and the match looked destined for a draw at the second break.
Murali Vijay illustrated the limited ambition of the tourists when he took 222 minutes and 135 balls to score a half-century, but it was only when his partnership with skipper Virat Kohli was broken that an Indian victory could be discounted.
Vijay was fortunate to survive an LBW appeal off the bowling of Josh Hazlewood when he was on 46 and the paceman finally got his man when he induced the opener into an edge that Brad Haddin claimed behind the stumps for 80.
It was just reward for Hazlewood (2-31), who had bowled with great discipline and miserly economy in the first two sessions without taking a wicket.
Left-armer Mitchell Starc struck next, removing Kohli for 46 with a slanted delivery that the Indian captain edged to Shane Watson at first slip.
The tourists were rocking at 201-4 and Starc drove home Australia’s advantage in his next over by trapping Suresh Raina LBW for a duck to give the recalled batsman a pair for the match.
Off-spinner Nathan Lyon, who had removed opener Lokesh Rahul before lunch, returned to dismiss Wriddhiman Saha LBW for another duck with a delivery that took a devilish bounce off the pitch and into the batsman’s pads.
The 15,000 spectators were buzzing and Hazlewood elicited another huge roar when he reduced the tourists to 217-7 by trapping Ravichandran Ashwin LBW for one run.
The field closed in around Rahane and Kumar with often just one Australian outside the cordon, but the Indian batsmen held firm to secure a second successive draw after opening the series with defeats in Adelaide and Brisbane.
? WINDIES BEAT S AFRICA
AP, CAPE TOWN, South Africa
Chris Gayle pummeled 77 from 31 balls with eight sixes in the fastest half-century by a West Indian in international cricket to set up a four-wicket win over South Africa in the first Twenty20 international on Friday.
Gayle’s destructive and match-winning innings — where he reached 50 in only 17 balls — sent the West Indies to 168-6 and past South Africa’s 165-4 with four balls to spare. A few late wickets could not prevent the West Indies taking an early lead in the three-match series.
For all South Africa’s dominance in the recent Test series, they slipped up in their first limited-overs challenge this year with the 50-over World Cup fast approaching. The teams are also set to contest a five-game one-day series before next month’s showpiece in Australia and New Zealand.
Rilee Rossouw scored 51 not out after South Africa won the toss and opted to bat at Newlands, but Gayle was unstoppable in the reply, smashing five fours along with his eight maximums.
The left-hander, back in the team after a back injury, launched five fours and five sixes in the 17 balls it took him to get his half-century. At one point in his knock, he collected 52 runs off 11 deliveries.
“I gave the team a good start so I’m really happy with that,” he said.
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