Defiant Handscomb and Marsh do Australia proud

David Lord Columnist

By David Lord, David Lord is a Roar Expert

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    Australia will go into the series deciding fourth and final Test on a huge high after Peter Handscomb and Shaun Marsh had played the innings of their lives yesterday at Ranchi.

    Skipper Steve Smith and a determined Matt Renshaw opened proceedings on the final day with a minimum 90 overs to face to save the Test after India led on the first innings by 151 runs.

    It was one helluva ask to survive, but Australia did it superbly against the equal top-ranked Test bowlers in the world – spin twins Ravi Ashwin, and Ravi Jadeja on a wicket tailor-made for them.

    This was a scoreboard to read without runs, but rather balls faced to soak up time.

    And it makes for riveting reading.

    Peter Handscomb – 200 deliveries.
    Shaun Marsh – 197.
    Matt Renshaw – 84.
    Steve Smith – 68.
    David Warner – 16.
    Matt Wade – 16.
    Glenn Maxwell – 15.
    And nightwtchman Nathan Lyon – 7.

    That adds up to 603 deliveries faced for the 100 overs of the innings, plus the three no-balls.

    Renshaw and Smith set the pace with 152 deliveries between them, before Renshaw was trapped in front, and for some unfathomable reason the skipper shouldered arms, and lost his castle.

    That left the Handscomb and Marsh stand as the most likely to save the Test, even though there was a long way to go.

    Both have had a very ordinary series – yet their 62-over stand was pure class.

    It’s been 32 innings since an Australian pair has posted a Test century partnership for the fifth wicket, but at Ranchi they did it twice.

    The Smith-Maxwell partnership of 191 off 354 deliveries dominated the baggy green’s first innings total of 451.

    Yesterday Marsh and Handscomb put on 124 off 373 on the most difficult of pitches against the two best spinners in the world.

    Marsh and Handscomb will never play better digs for Australia, with Marsh saving his career.

    Australian batsman Shaun Marsh reacts after scoring a century

    And they proved the perfect foil of left-hander Marsh, and right-handed Handscomb, as the two Ravis tried in vain to separate them.

    Their dot balls tell the story of the Australian’s patience.

    Jadeja bowled 230 dot balls in his 44 overs, Ashwin 148 in his 30 – totalling 378 – from their 74 of the 100 overs.

    That alone defied the cynics, many of whom wrote off the Australians by predicting they would be all out by lunch.

    I’m waiting for the knockers to step forward to say the were very wrong, and salute the draw.

    But I won’t be holding my breath, just as I won’t be expecting the army of Glenn Maxwell supporters to explain why he only faced 15 deliveries for his couple of runs with 29 minutes left on the clock.

    There was still a danger of defeat, but Handscomb and Wade safely saw Australia home.

    So the fourth and final Test at Dharamsala will be the series decider with Australia on a massive high saving the Test, while India will still be smarting at not putting Australia away when they had all the elements in their favour.

    That puts the baggy greens in the box seat to turn the screws for Steve Smith to hold aloft the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.

    And no doubt throw the odd smiling glance towards Virat Kohli.

    David Lord
    David Lord

    David Lord was deeply involved in two of the biggest sporting stories - World Series Cricket in 1977 and professional rugby in 1983. After managing Jeff Thomson and Viv Richards during WSC, in 1983 David signed 208 of the best rugby players from Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and France to play an international pro circuit. The concept didn?t get off the ground, but it did force the IRB to get cracking and bring in the World Rugby Cup, now one of the world?s great sporting spectacles

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    The Crowd Says (30)

    • March 21st 2017 @ 8:04am
      punter said | March 21st 2017 @ 8:04am | ! Report

      Great innings from both Marsh & Handscomb, if Marsh does nothing else, he can hang his hat on this. Hopefully this is a start of 100 test matches for Handscomb, so much composure for one so inexperience.

    • March 21st 2017 @ 9:02am
      Thunder Nation said | March 21st 2017 @ 9:02am | ! Report

      Great knockshop to Marsh and Handscomb
      The payoff for the children of the future has begun

      The children of the future are here today
      Here they sing ad here thye play
      Turn around and say to May
      The winds a blowin in the hay
      We can fight the fight that ends this thyme
      Or roll up the stumps and play with twine
      The children of the crickets future
      Begin with father, son, kinder and me.

    • Roar Guru

      March 21st 2017 @ 9:56am
      Chris Kettlewell said | March 21st 2017 @ 9:56am | ! Report

      Great effort by the boys. Good to see that even with Smith failing the others were able to step up and it wasn’t just a case of Smith batting all day being the only way it could be done. It was certainly not a minefield pitch, but plenty in India aren’t, and yet the spinners still regularly get the job done on day 5. There was a comment on the cricinfo site that it was the first time since 2010-11 that a visiting team had batted out for a draw after trailing on the first innings in India, or something like that. Not sure of all the stats behind that, but it points to it not just being a big thing for this Australian team that’s regularly struggled in fifth day situations where they’ve just had to hang on for a draw, but a big thing for any team visiting India. There have been plenty of other roads in that time that were probably better for day 5 batting than this one that teams still failed to make it. Probably including the final test for England where India managed 750 in their only innings then rolled England on the final day.

      • March 21st 2017 @ 11:14am
        jameswm said | March 21st 2017 @ 11:14am | ! Report

        Agreed, we all thought we were gone when Smith got out, but the next two did the job. Great stuff.

        • Roar Guru

          March 21st 2017 @ 12:08pm
          Chris Kettlewell said | March 21st 2017 @ 12:08pm | ! Report

          I’d finally found where I could get the ABC coverage online and was listening on the bus on the way home, and sat there in shock after hearing Smith’s dismissal. Like most I was really hoping the rest of the guys could do it, but wasn’t necesarily that hopeful they would be able to.

    • March 21st 2017 @ 11:43am
      Arky said | March 21st 2017 @ 11:43am | ! Report

      “Marsh and Handscomb will never play better digs for Australia, with Marsh saving his career.”

      They were good efforts but one would certainly hope Hanscomb in particular has even better digs ahead, and arguably already has. Let’s not get carried away. The pitch was not that bad, surviving 2 and a bit sessions even on day 5 is not an epic untoppable achievement, it’s just very good.

      • Roar Guru

        March 21st 2017 @ 12:10pm
        Chris Kettlewell said | March 21st 2017 @ 12:10pm | ! Report

        True, but it’s still apparently the first time any team has done it since something like 2011 in India. That’s quite a while. England’s last two tests they crumbled out in similar circumstances despite them being pitches that allowed India to even higher totals than they managed here on this pitch.

    • March 21st 2017 @ 7:50pm
      yuri said | March 21st 2017 @ 7:50pm | ! Report

      I thought it was an tremendous, riveting match. I was glued to the TV for 5 days and barely missed a ball. When the Aussies had to face those 8 overs at the end of day 4 I was so nervous I was trembling.

      I was very proud of the Aussies when they held on for a draw. In my eyes it was a win. Can’t wait for the 4th test.

      Shame that free to air TV is not covering these matches.

      What do people think of Warner’s performance? I know he was under tremendous pressure but he seemed to bat like an amateur in the second innings.
      What about Steve Smith’s captaincy? Alan Border and Brad Haddin were pretty critical of his failure to vary the bowlers and his use of DRS.

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