India v Australia, 3rd Test, Ranchi, 5th day March 20, 2017

Handscomb, Marsh pull off great escape


Australia 451 (Smith 178*, Maxwell 104, Jadeja 5-124) and 204 for 6 (Handscomb 72*, Marsh 53, Jadeja 4-54) drew with India 603 for 9 declared (Pujara 202, Saha 117, Vijay 82, Cummins 4-106)
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

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Thirty minutes before lunch, Peter Handscomb joined Shaun Marsh amid a Ranchi tumult. Their captain Steven Smith had just shouldered arms to let Ravindra Jadeja bowl him, symptomatic of a tired mind, the over after Matt Renshaw had also fallen. Australia were still 89 runs short of making India bat again; the hosts were circling hungrily.

Five hours later, Handscomb was still there and Marsh not long departed. The Test match was drawn, and the Border-Gavaskar Trophy bout remained locked at 1-1. Through batting of commendable calm and sure-footed technique, the Australian duo had thwarted India in a manner that will be a source of enormous satisfaction to the tourists. By getting out of a predicament few expected them to survive, they took the series to its final match.

Equally, India will be left to ponder why they were unable to close out this match in the manner of others during this elongated home season after the sublime innings by Cheteshwar Pujara. Certainly the Ranchi pitch stayed playable, but R Ashwin was unable to find a way through the Australian batsmen to provide the counterpoint to Jadeja's danger. Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav both bowled useful spells, but could not follow up Renshaw's wicket.

Ultimately, Australia's selection of a sixth batsman in place of the injured Mitchell Marsh gave them the batting depth they needed, not only to make a decent first-innings total but also to wriggle out of trouble on the final day. Before this match the visitors had gone 38 Test innings without a fifth-wicket stand worth 100 or more. In Ranchi, they managed to do it twice. Marsh and Handscomb's stand was worth 124, soaking up 62 priceless overs.

Smith and Renshaw had begun simply trying to bat for as long as possible, taking occasional scoring opportunities but stripping their games of risk. India's captain Virat Kohli began with Jadeja at one end and Yadav at the other, not calling on the offbreak's of the world's No. 1 ranked bowler Ashwin until the ball had lost much of its earlier hardness.

The plan to Smith appeared to be bowling wide of the stumps while trying to test the Australian captain's patience. He was comfortable in leaving plenty of balls alone while scoring from the occasional ball that strayed onto the stumps. Renshaw had a few awkward moments against Jadeja but overall held his shape well in dealing with the left-armer's variation between sharp turn and skidding straight balls.

Kohli replaced Yadav with Ishant, and he found a hint of movement from around the wicket. Renshaw's decision to pull away from the first ball of the 29th over of the innings seemed to raise Ishant's ire, and he hurled down a pair of bouncers in the same over to push the opener back, before thudding one into his front shin for the lbw verdict.

Smith had been safe in padding away anything Jadeja served up from over the wicket, but next over he failed to get his front leg far enough down the pitch or in line and heard the sickening noise of the off stump tumbling over. That error put Cheteshwar Pujara's enormous concentration in perspective, and left Marsh and Handscomb with much to do.

Ishant Sharma and India had precious little to celebrate on the last day in Ranchi © Associated Press

There were plenty of reasons for Marsh and Handscomb to feel overwhelmed when the afternoon session began, but neither was in the mood to give anything away. Their methods offered a contrast of left and right, plus Handscomb's penchant for getting down the pitch versus Marsh's long stride down the wicket and outside off stump.

A key over arrived midway through the session when Handscomb took 13 from an Ashwin over, compelling Kohli to take him out of the attack and switch Jadeja away from the end from which he had found spiteful turn to defeat David Warner and Nathan Lyon on the penultimate evening.

Handscomb and Marsh continued to accumulate either side of the interval, neither batsman doing anything outlandish but simply showing strong concentration and tight technique to frustrate the hosts, who had seemed so confident of victory little more than two hours before.

A pair of lbw appeals were referred by India but the day was going with Australia: Handscomb was struck on the back foot but the ball was not striking enough of the bails to avoid being deemed too high, and Marsh's miss of a flatter Ashwin delivery was not fatal because the ball had not quite straightened enough to strike leg stump squarely.

Both batsmen went on to half centuries and negotiated the early passages with the second new ball - India's last real hope of securing the rush of wickets they needed. Finally, Jadeja added a fourth victim when Marsh bunted a catch to short leg, and Glenn Maxwell soon squeezed Ashwin to silly point. But by then the match had all but petered out.

Kohli kept his men going beyond a point that others might not have, perhaps still believing in a miracle. Handscomb, though, was unperturbed, leaving Kohli to finally seek his hand in a gesture of concession and so send these sides to Dharamsala for the decider.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Rajesh on March 24, 2017, 6:10 GMT

    SAIKAT KAR, why are you covering up your faulty observation on Jadeja with "diversionary" tactics?

    If he is not a "wicket taking bowler" how then he is No. 1? And FYKI, being a No. 1 bowler at any given point of time is NOT EQUAL TO being an all-time great spinner.

    It is because he is taking lots of wickets, he is No. 1. If not wickets what else is he taking?

    So what if he takes more wicket in India than in Australia? Does that make him less of a wicket-taker?

    Please think twice before posting ridiculous comments like - "Even Jadeja isn't particularly a wicket-taking bowler. "

  • Rajesh on March 23, 2017, 9:22 GMT

    SAIKAT KAR, why are you covering up your laughable observation on Jadeja with "diversionary" tactics?

    If he is not a "wicket taking bowler" how then he is No. 1? And FYKI, being a No. 1 bowler at any given point of time is NOT EQUAL TO being an all-time great spinner.

    It is because he is taking lots of wickets, he is No. 1. If not wickets what else is he taking - Ladoos? LOL!

    So what if he takes more wicket in India than in Australia? Does that make him less of a wicket-taker?

    Please think twice before posting ridiculous comments like - "Even Jadeja isn't particularly a wicket-taking bowler. "

  • Deepak on March 22, 2017, 16:44 GMT

    SAIKAT KAR true both BBL and IPL are entertainment quotient its not real cricket. I was just replying to that guy who said Aussie know Indian pitches due to IPL and Indians dont have that option

  • Jose on March 22, 2017, 14:56 GMT


    There are two uncertain variables.

    1. If the pitch looks really flat,


    2. If, Lyon's spinning finger doesn't heal enough to give the rip.

    Then, your proposal is certainly worth considering.


    In the alternate scenario of India, risking a loss for a possible win:

    That is,

    If they prepare a rank turner, which negates most of the pacer-friendly unique conditions usually prevailing in D'Shala, I will keep the same XI for OZ as they did in Ranchi. After all , they just have to manage a draw and nothing more, to retain the cup.

    The current 'physical conditions' of Ashwin & Lyon cancel out.

    In case, if Lyon finds it tough to carry on in the middle of the test. OZ still have Maxi with his off-breaks & the captain himself with some leg-breaks are available to fill the gap. And keep Pat & Josh relatively 'fresh' to carry on. And mange a worthwhile draw. And retain the cup.

    This seems to be the more likely scenario. Of course, I may prove out to be wrong. I accept that

  • Mashuq on March 22, 2017, 13:41 GMT

    @JayGadson: Perhaps Old Trafford is such a wicket? @Jose...P, if you retain Lyon and replace O'Keefe with Bird since you think it is "far better for pacers to show up & deliver in this ground" the question is whether Bird and Lyon can sufficiently complement Cummins and Hazlewood. I suggest that Cummins in short sharp bursts with Bird making it difficult to score and taking wickets if his bounce provokes a rash shot is the way to go. I prefer Agar because Lyon (like Ashwin) is looking progressively ineffective. His spinning finger won't be OK in the short term (at least not enough for him to provide the hard-spun balls that he delivered before the injury) If the wicket is flat (for Dharamsala) someone who takes the ball away from the Indian right-handers and gets bounce, (Agar because of action + height) might be better than O'Keefe. I'd have preferred Fawad Ahmed over inexperienced Swepson because he'd have been more familiar with SC wickets but he'll be in Alice Springs: selectors...

  • Jose on March 22, 2017, 13:05 GMT

    @Saikat Kar on March 22, 2017, 11:45 GMT

    Yes. "India need to win the test and can't afford a draw."


    That is a valid point, in India taking the risk, of losing, for a win.

  •   Saikat Kar on March 22, 2017, 11:45 GMT

    JOSE...P ON MARCH 22, 2017, 11:23 GMT Probably. Negating over head conditions would be difficult, but they can effectively take out seam movement from the equation, if they want it. After the third test, I doubt India would want to bowl for too long. But they would also have the chance to tire the Australians. The only reason I am expecting a turner is that India need to win the test and can't afford a draw. In the last test Australia scored 450 despite not batting that well. If one more batsman had stayed with Smith then they too would have had 550-600 and the game would have certainly slipped out of India's hand. Maybe they will prepare a flat pitch hoping India win the toss.

  • Jose on March 22, 2017, 11:23 GMT

    @ Saikat Kar on March 22, 2017, 9:35 GMT

    If Lyon's spinning finger is OK, I will NEVER replace him with Bird, on ANY Indian ground. Lyon is also more effective with better bounce, My suggestion is, in case...

    I can't rule out the chance of K&K going for a flat deck, a bit more than they going for a rank turner. They may pretend that everything is OK with Ashwin, but he surely looks goddam tired.

    Ashwin *in form & if fully fit* is our ace. He will still be in the XI, knowing Kumble, come what may. So, the pitch may look as barren as the head of Yul Brynner.

    Normally it is very tough to negate the atmospheric conditions in D'Shala with a countering pitch alone. Then I realise, it is no more the Nov-Feb season, and the usual early fog may or may not be there now, since it is warming up & transiting to summer, Still be winterish for an hour or even more, compared to all the other sites.

    After considering everything, still far better for pacers to show up & deliver in this ground.

  •   Saikat Kar on March 22, 2017, 11:11 GMT

    RAZ2802 Yup. Jadeja being the no. 1 spinner is the joke of the decade in my opinion. Yes, he is exceptionally accurate and everything, but far from the all time great spinners. There is a reason why he averages more than 40 outside Asia. And it's not like Australian pitches didn't help spin. Lyon ran through India's line up there. But Jadeja hasn't. I wonder why. Tight line and length are a great skill to have, but that won't make a spinner the best of his time.

  • Rajesh on March 22, 2017, 10:47 GMT

    This got to be the JOKE of the decade: "Even Jadeja isn't particularly a wicket-taking bowler. "

    Thank you, SAIKAT KAR!

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