Ravi Ashwin’s wife has put his heroic SCG knock into greater context, revealing her husband could hardly stand on Monday morning as he prepared to help his country save the third Test.
India have been ravaged by injuries throughout the series, with Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Rishabh Pant all suffering during the Sydney Test.
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India will be forced to make at least one change to their incumbent side for the deciding fourth Test because of the enforced omission of Jadeja (broken thumb).
Hanuma Vihari is also in extreme doubt after tweaking his hamstring on Monday, especially given there is just a three-day break between games.
Pant’s arm injury will be assessed, star batsman Cheteshwar Pujara is continuing to manage a finger injury, while Ashwin's wife Prithi revealed the offspinner had been in “unbelievable pain” because of a back injury.
“The man went to bed last night with a terrible back tweak and in unbelievable pain,” she wrote on Twitter.
“He could not stand up straight when he woke up this morning. Could not bend down to tie his shoe laces.
“I am amazed at what @ashwinravi99 pulled off today.”
The man went to bed last night with a terrible back tweak and in unbelievable pain. He could not stand up straight when he woke up this morning. Could not bend down to tie his shoe laces. I am amazed at what @ashwinravi99 pulled off today.
— Prithi Ashwin (@prithinarayanan) January 11, 2021
With the odds stacked against them, Ashwin and Vihari batted through 256 balls to force a draw as India finished 5-334.
The draw capped one of India’s most resilient efforts, keeping the series level at 1-1 with the final Test at the Gabba from Friday.
Vihari batted through 161 balls for 23, while Ashwin churned through 128 deliveries for his 39.
Not since South Africa batted through 117 eight-ball overs in 1964 to deny Australia has a team faced more balls to survive at the SCG.
Ajinkya Rahane heaps praises on battered stars
Regular skipper Virat Kohli, who welcomed the birth of his first child late on Monday night, is also unavailable after flying home to India after the first Test.
India have also been weakened by the absence of Mohammed Shami (arm), Umesh Yadav (calf), Ishant Sharma (side), Bhuvneshwar Kumar (thigh) and KL Rahul (wrist).
Stand-in skipper Ajinkya Rahana praised his depleted team for digging deep in Sydney, highlighting the desperation showed by hobbled batsmen Vihari and Ashwin as they successfully negotiated the entire final session.
“I'm really proud as a captain of each individual,” Rahane said.
“You don't want your players to get injured but injuries are a thing you can’t control.
“Our talk in the middle and in the dressing room was if we need you to bat, you have to bat.
“Guys were ready for it. Credit to Hanuma, Ashwin was struggling, and Jadeja was padded up.
“It shows their character ... it’s a very good sign.”
Rahane argued the draw was was good as a victory in the circumstances, having been set a target of 407 that may have potentially been within reach if not for Vihari's injury.
“With so many injuries happening, our only focus was to just fight until the end,” he said.
Momentum has swung violently and frequently throughout the series, which started with India being skittled for a record-low total of 36 en route to a crushing defeat at Adelaide Oval.
“We were all disappointed but the atmosphere was good. Credit to management, they kept it really light,” Rahane said.
“We didn't think about what happened in Adelaide. We were just focused on Melbourne.
“Melbourne Test was really special for us ... this SCG Test was really special.”
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