Half-centuries from Ajinkya Rahane (89) and Shardul Thakur (51) and a 109-run partnership for the seventh wicket between the two helped India make some sort of comeback on the third day of the World Test Championship (WTC) final on Friday but Australia In the second innings, by scoring 120 runs for four wickets, their position was greatly strengthened.
Australia, who scored 469 runs in the first innings, took India’s first innings for 296 runs and took a lead of 173 runs, taking their overall lead to 296 runs at the end of the day’s play.
India will need to take Australia’s remaining six wickets quickly to stay in the match and then expect an effective performance from the batsmen. At the end of the day’s play, Marnus Labuschagne was at the crease scoring 41 and Cameron Green scoring seven runs. Earlier, Rahane hit 11 fours and a six in his 129-ball innings, while Shardul hit six fours in his 109-ball innings.
Shardul scored his third half-century in his third innings at the Oval ground. Indian bowlers bowled brilliantly in the second innings.
Mohammad Siraj (one for 41) hit Labushen twice in the fourth over of the second innings after walking David Warner (one run). Both times the ball hit Labushen’s body. In the third session of the day, Umesh Yadav (1/21) ended Usman Khawaja’s 13-run innings by getting him caught behind by Bharat.
Labushen then reduced the pressure by hitting a four against Umesh and Smith against Mohammed Shami. Labushen completed the half-century of Australia’s innings by taking three runs off Umesh in the 20th over. Both of them managed to keep Australia’s score running.
Meanwhile, Labushen hit a spectacular four off Siraj and Shardul, while Smith opened his hand against Jadeja by sending the ball across the boundary. Smith was caught in the act of playing another big shot against this left-arm bowler and Shardul did not make any mistake in catching the catch.
Smith and Labushen shared a 62-run partnership for the third wicket. Travis Head (18 runs), who scored a century in the first innings, expressed his intentions by hitting a six against Siraj. Umesh gave life to Jadeja by dropping his catch near the boundary but this bowler took a brilliant catch on his own ball.
Earlier, India started the day at 151 for five and got the only blow in the first session in the form of Shrikar Bharat (five runs).
Bharat became the second victim of Scott Boland on the second ball of the day without adding to his score of the previous day. Rahane and Shardul then batted with strong spirit. Both also got three lives but in the opening half an hour of play, both were injured several times in front of the excellent bowling of captain Pat Cummins and Boland.
Usman Khawaja dropped a simple catch of Shardul in the third slip on Boland’s ball. In the bowler’s next over, the ball took the edge of Shardul’s bat but it went wide of the slip fielders for a four. Shardul was injured twice by Cummins in the 42nd over of the Indian innings. Both times the ball hit his right hand and the team physio had to come on the field.
Australia’s bowlers were not giving any chance to the Indian batsmen to score runs at this time, but Rahane, batting carefully from the other end, reduced the pressure by hitting Boland’s ball with a confident boundary between the gully and point fielders. In the 44th over of the innings, Cameron Green dropped the catch of Shardul in the gully off Cummins and gave the batsman a second life.
Rahane celebrated his return to the team by hitting the Australian skipper for a four and then a brilliant hook shot for a six in the next over, completing his half-century off 92 balls. He completed a half-century partnership with Shardul by hitting a four over the slip against Green and then sent the ball across the boundary on a delightful cover drive.
The impact of Rahane’s strong attack was also seen on Shardul’s batting and he hit a strong four in the cover area against Starc. During this, Rahane became the 13th Indian to complete 5000 runs in Test cricket by taking two runs off Green’s ball in the 55th over. Before this innings, he had 4931 runs in 82 Tests.
In the next over, Rahane missed the catch of David Warner in the first slip off Cummins, who came to bowl. Cummins handed the ball to Nathan Lyon in search of a wicket and Rahane welcomed him with a four. In the next over, Shardul hit a four with a brilliant flick.
Rahane took the team’s score to 250 in the 59th over with a single off Leon’s second ball. He ended the over in the same fashion after completing a century partnership with Shardul on the backfoot punch on the fourth ball. In the second over after lunch, Cameron Green ended Rahane’s memorable innings by taking a brilliant catch off the bowling of captain Pat Cummins. He hit 11 fours and a six in 129 balls. Shardul supported him brilliantly from the other end. After Rahane, Cummins achieved the third success by bowling Umesh Yadav (five).
Mohammed Shami, who came to the crease, hit two fours against Scott Boland in the next over. Shardul then completed his half-century in 108 balls by hitting a spectacular straight drive and cover drive off Cummins. However, he could not take his innings much further and got wicketkeeper Alex Carey out on Green’s ball.
Mitchell Starc ended India’s innings by catching Shami (13) behind the wicket. The Indian team lost the remaining four wickets in the second session adding just 36 runs.
Read the latest sports news on The Eastern Herald.