The Indian cricket team put up a highly inspiring and defiant batting effort on Day 5 of the Sydney Test against Australia to draw the encounter. Needing an improbable 407 runs to win the Test, the Indian batsmen batted out for 131 overs to finish on a commendable 334 for 5. After losing skipper Ajinkya Rahane early on the final day, Cheteshwar Pujara (77 from 205) and Rishabh Pant (97 from 118) played contrasting knocks to keep India in the hunt before Hanuma Vihari (23 not out from 161) and Ravichandran Ashwin (39 not out from 128) battled injury, pain and some hostile Australian bowling to stonewall the hosts.
In the wake of India’s incredible effort at the SCG, we go down memory lane and look back at five of India’s most famous draws in Test matches.
1. India vs. England (The Oval, 1979)
This was the fourth Test match of the four-Test series. India were set a massive target of 438 to win the match. And, believe it or not, they almost got there. Openers Sunil Gavaskar and Chetan Chauhan added 213 for the opening wicket to keep India in the hunt. After Chauhan was dismissed for 80 by Bob Willis, Gavaskar was joined by Dilip Vengsarkar, and the duo lifted India to 366. At that point, victory seemed a realistic possibility. However, India collapsed following Vengsarkar’s dismissal for 52. Kapil Dev perished for a duck and Gavaskar’s vigil on a magnificent 221. India crumbled to 429 for 8 but eventually eked out a draw.
2. India vs Pakistan (Delhi, 1979)
In the same year as The Oval Test, India came tantalizing close to snatch a victory against Pakistan at Delhi. This time, India were set 390 for a win. Sunil Gavaskar, however, perished cheaply for 21 while his opening partner Chetan Chauhan contributed 42. Both were dismissed by Sikander Bakht. The Indian innings revolved around Dilip Vengsarkar, who made a defiant 146 not out from 370 deliveries. Yashpal Sharma contributed 60 from 135. However, Kapil Dev (21) and Roger Binny (10) fell quickly, leaving Vengsarkar to play out a draw in the company of Syed Kirmani. India ended up making 364 for 6.
3. India vs West Indies (Mumbai, 1949)
This was as close as India could have got to win a Test against the mighty West Indies, that too back in 1949. India were set a highly challenging target of 361 to win the Test. Not many expected India to get close, but they actually finished on 355 for 8 in 107 overs. After openers Mushtaq Ali and KC Ibrahim were dismissed cheaply, Rusi Modi held the Indian innings together with a fighting 86. Skipper Lala Amarnath contributed 39 before being bowled, but it Vijay Hazare who took the attack to West Indies with a brilliant 122. The innings lasted 285 minutes and featured 14 fours, giving the Windies a real scare. Hazare was the sixth man out for 285 as India eventually settled for a draw.
4. India vs England (Manchester, 1990)
One of the most famous rearguards of the last few decades, this match marked the maiden Test hundred of Sachin Tendulkar. And, what a brilliant knock it was, under intense pressure. Set to chase a target of 408, India were in dire straits at 183 for 6. Openers Ravi Shastri and Navjot Sidhu had perished cheaply, Sanjay Manjrekar fell immediately after his 50 while Dilip Vengsarkar and Kapil Del also returned after getting starts. Tendulkar then found an able company in Manoj Prabhakar, and the two combined to take India to safety without further trouble. Defying his age, Tendulkar made a resolute 119 not out from 189 balls while Prabhakar was unbeaten on 67 from 128. India finished on a commendable 343 for 6.
5. India vs England (Lord’s, 2007)
One would not associate MS Dhoni with match-saving knocks in Test cricket. But, he did pull off a famous escape for India in the 2007 Test at Lord’s. India needed 380 runs to win the Test, which was pretty much out of the question after they lost half their side for 145. A defeat though seemed to be dangling after the wickets of Sourav Ganguly (40) and VVS Laxman (39) left India precariously placed at 231 for 6. Dhoni, however, brilliantly farmed the strike in his unbeaten 76 off 159 balls. England kept chipping away at the wickets, but bad light and rain eventually had the last say as India escaped by the scruff of the neck, at 282 for 9.