RANCHI — Middle-order duo Shaun Marsh and Peter Handscomb helped Australia salvage a draw against India in the third cricket Test at the Jharkhand State Cricket Association Stadium March 20 in Ranchi.
Handscomb (72 not out) and Marsh (53) forged a brilliant 124-run fifth-wicket stand as Australia ended at 204/6 and denied the hosts any chance of gaining a 2-1 lead in the series.
For India, left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja was the pick of the bowlers with figures of 4/54 while off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin and pacer Ishant Sharma picked a wicket each.
Meanwhile, former India skipper Sourav Ganguly reckoned that injured left-arm quick Mitchell Starc's absence in the third Test against Australia resulted in off-spinners from both sides – Ravichandran Ashwin and Nathan Lyon – failing to find much purchase from the stadium track.
Ganguly felt that both the off-spinners failed to find the rough outside the off-stump, which is often created by the left-arm bowlers.
Ashwin in his two innings returned figures of 2/185 bowling a combined 64 overs, while Australia's Lyon – wrecker-in-chief in the first Test in Pune where he claimed career-best figures of 8/50 – got just the wicket of a tired Cheteshwar Pujara in the first innings after the latter played the innings of his life, a classical 202 off 525 deliveries.
"Off-spinners did not get wickets here. This is because Mitchell Starc was not there, so the rough outside off-stump was not created," Ganguly told reporters.
Starc – Australia's prime bowler – was ruled out of the tour after playing the first two Tests due to a stress fracture in his right foot.
The third Test ended in a draw after Australian pair Shaun Marsh and Peter Handscomb stitched together a match-saving 124-run stand for the fifth wicket in their second innings.
Replying to their first essay total of 451, India rode the brilliance of Pujara and stumper Wriddhiman Saha (117) to a mammoth 603/9 declared after taking a lead of 152.
"They played really well," Ganguly said.
Ganguly did not want to read too much into Ashwin's low returns in this tie.
"He got wickets in the last match only."
Ashwin returned with a match haul of 8/125 in the second Test played in Bengaluru. The fourth and final rubber will be played in Dharamsala March 25 with the series evenly poised at 1-1.