Shaun Marsh and Peter Handscomb: The ‘odd’ pair that defied India in Ranchi Test

The pair of Shaun Marsh and Peter Handscomb stitched together 125-run partnership from 373 balls to salvage a draw for Australia in the Ranchi Test.

cricket Updated: Mar 21, 2017 14:27 IST
Shaun Marsh,Peter Handscomb,India vs Australia
Australia's Shaun Marsh, right, and Peter Handscomb run between the wickets during the third Test against India in Ranchi.(AP)

On Day 5 of the Ranchi Test, Peter Handscomb and Shaun Marsh was the story of the “odd couple” that delivered India a knockout punch.

The two stitched together a tense fifth wicket partnership to post 125 runs having faced 373 balls on the fifth day of the third Test in Ranchi to help Australia salvage a draw, keeping the series with India level at 1-1 and leaving the fourth Test in Dharamsala as the decider.

READ | Ravindra Jadeja becomes No. 1 bowler, Cheteshwar Pujara 2nd on batsmen’s list

While the two certainly aren’t exactly peas in a pod — Handscomb is a 25-year-old right-handed extroverted batter with an unusual stance while Marsh is a 33-year-old left-handed introverted batter with a proper stance — it’s probably the differences between them that posed a huge challenge for India’s excellent bowling attack.

Indian spin bowlers Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja — currently the two best Test bowlers on the planet — tried in vain to dent the Handscomb-Marsh partnership as they saw out 62.2 overs to soak up the pressure on the Australians in just under four hours.

READ | Cheteshwar Pujara, Wriddhiman Saha add steel to Indian cricket team’s armoury

Their pairing produced a new record for the biggest partnership for Australia in term of balls faced in India. Their 125-run stand from 373 balls overtakes the previous best set in the same match — a 191-run partnership from 354 balls produced by Glenn Maxwell and Steven Smith in the first innings.

The Handscomb-Marsh partnership successfully saw out the battle against time. When Marsh fell in the 92nd over, the pair had completed 232 minutes together having put up a good defence that saw them block and leave every temptations while also posting the runs at opportune moments.

READ | Peter Handscomb, Shaun Marsh repaid faith: Steve Smith after Ranchi draw

The defiant stand saw them achieve personal landmarks in the process.

Handscomb played exactly 200 balls for his unbeaten 72 runs, his third longest innings in terms of balls faced. His 72 not out was also his third highest Test score and highest outside Australia.

Marsh also completed a half-century as he fell for 53 having faced 197 deliveries.

Australia captain Steve Smith had several words of praise to shower on the pair aftet the match.

“They had magnificent plans. They backed their defence for long periods of time to see the game out for as long as they did. That’s one of the things we have been talking about — being resilient and sticking out the tough times. The way Petey (Handscomb) and Shaun did that was magnificent,” Smith said in the post-match press conference.

The captain also tweeted after the match the further show his appreciation for the pair that kept Australia in the hunt to win the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.

First Published: Mar 21, 2017 14:19 IST