Former Australian wicket-keeper batsman Brad Haddin has been left impressed by India's stand-in-skipper Ajinkya Rahane and he termed his Pant's 'punt' outstanding. He was also full of praise for the fight and character that the Indian team has showed in the series after being hit by injuries.
When India lost Ajinkya Rahane early in the first few minutes of the fifth day at SCG, a first innings like collapse didn't look far fetched given Hanuma Vihari's poor form and injuries to Rishabh Pant and Ravindra Jadeja. But, in a move that surprised many, Indian team management sent in left-hander Rishabh Pant at 5 ahead of Vihari.
And that was the start of something very special as the youngster, who was down with elbow injury, not only showed courage but the correct approach as he attacked Nathan Lyon mercilessly after getting a life early on. He perished to the offie ultimately but not before winning over the world with a 118-ball-97 with India back in the chase out of nowhere.
But soon afterwards, India lost another set batsman Cheteshwar Pujara after which they shut the shop and went for a draw which they did on back of an epic blockathon by Vihari and Ashwin. Former Aussie wicket-keeper batsman Brad Haddin has been left mighty impressed with Rahane's captaincy punt of sending Rishabh Pant up the order, which changed the momentum of the third Test.
"The way India performed yesterday when they could have just shut up shop and played for a draw, but the Pant tactical move by Rahane I thought was outstanding," Haddin told 'Sen Radio', reported TOI.
"If you have a closer look at it, he sent Pant out to try and move the game forward and Pant did exactly that. He played brave and he made Tim Paine make some decisions as captain on the last day which I thought tactically was really good. Then Vihari came in, and he's a very similar player to Pujara, they can just shut the game down and that's exactly what he did," Haddin added.
Rahane has captained India in four Tests winning three games with one Test ending in a draw. Haddin highlighted Rahane's excellent captaincy record and termed him a 'brave' captain.
"Rahane hasn't lost the game as captain, he was really brave yesterday to give India a little sniff. I thought the runs were always too much for them, but he gave them a sniff."
India's tour of Australia has been plagued with injuries. All the four batting heroes of the SCG Test - Pujara, Pant, Vihari and Ashwin, had some injury or the other, yet they didn't give up and put up a resilient show. Haddin praised the character of the Indian cricket team and its players.
"They're showing some really, really good character for this India team. They've got a lot of injuries, they've lost their captain, they've lost three fast bowlers, Jadeja's got a busted thumb. They're showing a lot of character," he added.
India will take on Australia in the fourth and final Test at Gabba from Friday onwards.