Shaun Marsh. (Photo: BCCI)
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Handscomb and Marsh Help Australia Salvage a Draw in Ranchi Test

The Indian bowlers were thwarted by Australia's perseverance as Steve Smith's men survived a battle of nerves on Monday to force a draw in the third Test at Ranchi and keep the series alive.

Starting the day at a nervy 23/2 in reply to India's 603/9 declared, Australia were 204/6 in 100 overs in their second innings when the two teams decided to end the proceedings.

Handscomb (72 not out) and Marsh (53) combined to share a 124-run fifth-wicket partnership to steer Australia to safety after the dismissal of skipper Steve Smith (21) and Matt Renshaw (15) had given the visitors' dressing room moments of anxiety.

Peter Handscomb raises his bat after scoring a fifty as Shaun Marsh looks on. (Photo: BCCI)
Peter Handscomb raises his bat after scoring a fifty as Shaun Marsh looks on. (Photo: BCCI)

Renshaw and Smith lasted for over 20 overs in the first session of the day before the opening batsman was trapped LBW by Ishant Sharma for 15 runs.

Three deliveries later, Steve Smith was bowled by a beautiful delivery from Ravindra Jadeja for 21 runs and Australia were in deep trouble at 63/4.

The visitors managed to hold on thanks largely to Peter Handscomb and Shaun Marsh's gritty vigil at the crease.

Marsh was eventually dismissed by India's bowling star Ravindra Jadeja in the 92nd over, who continued his purple patch to finish with figures of 4/54.

Handscomb, on the other hand, played the anchor’s role to perfection and remained unbeaten after holding the fort for 200 deliveries.

The Indian bowlers, especially pacer Ishant Sharma (1/30), looked menacing in the pre-lunch session but the Aussies managed to hold their ground in the last two sessions.

After Monday's result, the series remaines locked at 1-1 setting up a mouth-watering finale in Dharamsala, starting 25 March. The hill town would be hosting its maiden Test match.

Ishant Sharma celebrates a wicket with his teammates. (Photo: BCCI)
Ishant Sharma celebrates a wicket with his teammates. (Photo: BCCI)

The simmering tensions between the two sides have only added to the drama with day five of the Ranchi Test being no exception.

There was animated chatter between Renshaw and Ishant in the latest round of verbal altercations before the Indian pacer had the last laugh by trapping the opener LBW.

However, premier off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin was a major disappointment for the home team. He managed just one wicket in the second innings to go with his solo scalp in the first essay.

The Indian team, apart from the sizable crowd, were also cheered on by former captain and local favourite Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who attended the match after his team (Jharkhand) got knocked out in the semifinals of the Vijay Hazare Trophy on Saturday.

(With inputs from PTI)