James Anderson, the world’s most experienced No. 11, and Stuart Broad, his bowling partner, bowled two crucial overs together to rescue the match. R Sridhar, Team India’s former fielding coach, was reminded of R Ashwin and Hanuma Vihari’s exploits against the same opposition last year after viewing the developments.
Vihari and Ashwin batted 259 balls in the third Border Gavaskar Trophy Test in 2021, putting on 62 runs for the sixth wicket on the closing day to keep the series score at 1-1 ahead of the fourth and final Test in Brisbane. What made the collaboration even more remarkable was that both batters persevered despite injury. Vihari batted through a hamstring strain while Ashwin had a sore back. Scans revealed he suffered a grade 2 tear after the day’s play.
A year later, Australia faced a similar situation when Anderson and Broad, the English combination, battled it out in bad light and difficult circumstances to keep the team from sweeping the tournament.
With two overs to go, the visitors were 270/9 in pursuit of a lofty mark of 388. The Joe Root-led side, which has been guilty of dreadful batting throughout the series, managed to stay in contention for a draw thanks to half-centuries from opener Zak Crawley (77) and all-rounder Ben Stokes (60).
In the 99th over, Steve Smith dismissed Jack Leach, leaving Broad and Anderson to bowl one over apiece from Nathan Lyon and Smith. Due to low lighting, the pacers were unable to bowl, and the England pacers, such as Ashwin and Vihari, were able to save the day and the game for their team.
While the game was nearing its conclusion, Sridhar tweeted: Can’t help but get nostalgic about this situation here at the @scg. @ECB_cricket could do with @ashwinravi99 & @Hanumavihari here,” he wrote, adding a wink emoji.
The fifth and final Test will begin on January 14 at Bellerive Oval in Hobart.