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Australia salvage draw in third Test

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 20/03/2017 Rob Forsaith

Shaun Marsh and Peter Handscomb have dug deep to help Australia salvage a draw from the third Test, thwarting India on day five in Ranchi.

The visitors resumed at 2-23 and slipped to 4-63 during Monday's morning session.

Marsh and Handscomb responded with a game-saving stand of 124 runs that soaked up 374 balls and almost four hours. Stumps were finally pulled with Australia leading by 52 runs at 6-204.

The result was somewhat of a moral victory for Steve Smith's side, who were batted out of the contest by double-centurion Cheteshwar Pujara on Sunday.

The four-Test series remains level at 1-1. The visitors boast the upper hand heading to Dharamsala, where the decider starts on Saturday. Australia hold the Border-Gavaskar trophy and will retain the silverware if the series is drawn.

Handscomb, who finished unbeaten on 72 off 200 balls, and Marsh, who scored 53 from 197 balls, earned standing ovations from teammates after resisting star spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja.

The final-day stonewall, one of many scenarios that Australia trained for during a pre-tour camp in Dubai, was remarkable for several reasons.

It was proof Australia's batting order could not only function but thrive with minimal contributions from their two best batsmen, captain Smith and vice-captain David Warner.

Smith failed to play a shot to a sharp-turning delivery from Jadeja in Monday's morning session, while Warner was clean bowled by a near-unplayable ball from Jadeja the previous night.

It was also a sign of how the side's mindset has changed on this trip. It was exactly the sort of desperation that had been so severely lacking in a nine-Test losing streak in Asia, which was riddled with collapses and finally ended with the series-opening boilover in Pune last month.

Australia hadn't successfully batted time for a draw since Michael Clarke and Phillip Hughes ground out dour tons in Colombo some five and a half years ago.

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