On the third day of the battle of Qadisiyya, the elephants were once again in the front of the Persian army. That altered the situation to the advantage of the Persians, and Rustam pressed this advantage into service. He ordered an attack, and the Muslims had to remain on the defensive.
The Persians let loose a rain of arrows against the Muslims, and that led to considerable damage to the Muslims. The Muslim archers shot their arrows in reply, but these ere not very effective.
The Persian elephants moved forward supported by their infantry and cavalry. At the approach of the Persian elephants, the Muslim horse got panicky and that led to confusion in the ranks of the Muslim cavalry. The Persians pressed the attack, and the Muslims fell back.
Through the gaps that had appeared in the Muslim ranks as a result of the Persian advance, some Persian cavalry pressed forward to capture the old palace where Saad the Commander-in-Chief of the Muslim forces was stationed. The strategy of the Persians was that the Muslim Commander-in-Chief should be killed or taken captive with a view to demoralising the Muslims.
The Muslims realised the danger that beset their Commander-in-Chief. A strong cavalry contingent of the Muslims rushed to the spot, and drove away the Persians.
Saad now directed that the elephants should be overpowered by blinding them and severing their trunks. Qaqa and his brother Asim took with them a strong group of the Bani Tameem, and moved towards the elephant which was causing the greatest havoc among the Muslim ranks. The Bani Tameem charged with cries of Allah-o-Akbar, struck at the Persians who surrounded the elephant, and moved forward through the gap created by their attack. Thereupon the Persians rushed to the flanks and rear of the elephant. There being no Persian in front of the elephant, Qaqa and Asim stole to the front and threw their javelins at the elephant. The javelins pierced the eyes of the elephant. The beast writhed with pain, and the Howdah that it carried came tumbling down. Qaqa and Asim fell on the Persians who had fallen with the Howdah and killed all of them. Then they severed the trunk of the elephant with strokes of their swords. In an agony of pain, the elephant turned and bolted away trampling the Persians under its feet.
Hammal b. Malik and Ribbel b. Amr of the Bani Asad led a similar attack against another elephant. That elephant also lost its eyes and trunk, and retired from the battle-field writhing with pain.
Amr b. Madi Karib with his men rushed at another elephant and the elephant blinded and mutilated galloped away from the battle-field. Other groups of Muslim warriors also rushed at the elephants adopting similar tactics and succeeded in mutilating the monsters. The mutilated beasts rushed through the Persian ranks and made for the river. The other elephants seeing their leaders leave the field, also turned tail and fled to the river. By noon no elephant was left on the battle-field. The flight of the elephants caused considerable confusion in the Persian ranks.
At this stage, Saad ordered an assault. The Muslims moved forward and the two armies clashed. In spite of the Muslim pressure, the Persians held the ground. After some fierce fighting the Muslims pulled back.
After a little break the battle was resumed in the afternoon. In the absence of Persian elephants, the Muslims once again brought camels camouflaged as monsters. The trick did not work and the Persian horse stood their ground.
The Muslims charged again, but though the Persians suffered heavy casualties, they held the ground and refused to yield. When the dusk set in both the armies were locked in life and death struggle.
The third day of the battle of Qadisiyya proved to be the hardest day of the war. There were heavy casualties on both sides, and the battle-field came to be strewn with dead bodies of fallen warriors, both Muslims and non-Muslims. When the battle began and the elephants were brought to the front all advantages lay with the Persians, and Rustam felt that the collapse of the Muslim army was imminent. At one stage the Muslim Commander-in-Chief ran the risk of being killed or captured alive.
Later the Muslims succeeded in driving away the elephants. The Muslims then launched the assault. In spite of the violence of the Muslim attack, the Persians held the ground and refused to yied. Thus at the end of the third day the battle of Qadisiyya was still inconclusive.