WTC final: India’s resilience falls short as Australia dominate

India finally show some stomach to fight, but it is not enough to stop the mighty Australians

| Updated: 10 June, 2023 12:11 am IST
Ajinkya Rahane (Photo Courtesy Twitter @BCCI)

NEW DELHI: In their battle to stay relevant, India showcased remarkable resilience through the valiant efforts of Ajinkya Rahane and Shardul Thakur, accompanied by an improved bowling performance compared to the first innings.

But their inspired performance on the third day of the World Test Championship final against Australia at The Oval was not enough to cover up their insipid display on the first two days of the match.

Starting the day 318 runs behind with half their team dismissed, India managed to reduce the deficit to 173 but concluded the day 296 runs behind with six Australian wickets still intact.

India entered each session of the day fully aware that their primary objective was to survive. While they successfully avoided a collapse, Australia steadily advanced during the extended final session, leaving India teetering between staying alive and being out of the game.

ALSO READ: WTC Final: Australia’s dominant bowlers leave India struggling

The day began with Scott Boland delivering an impeccable line, sneaking past KS Bharat’s inside edge to dismiss him on the second ball. Pat Cummins and Boland then tormented Rahane and Thakur with uneven bounce, making the first hour particularly challenging for the Indian duo. Thakur even had to resort to taking painkillers and wearing forearm padding to endure the onslaught.

Nevertheless, Australia’s fielding display was not flawless. Cummins ended up bowling six no-balls, three of which resulted in wickets. Additionally, three catches were dropped in the slip cordon, and Mitchell Starc struggled to maintain control over his deliveries.

Shardul Thakur added crucial runs (Photo Courtesy Twitter @BCCI)

 

After surviving the initial onslaught, Rahane and Thakur began to score freely. By lunch, Rahane was agonisingly close to a century on his Test comeback, trailing by just 11 runs, while Thakur was 14 runs shy of securing his third consecutive fifty at The Oval. With the old ball losing its unpredictability, India had a chance to significantly reduce the 209-run deficit before the second new ball.

ALSO READ: WTC final: India struggle as Australia dominates opening day

However, post-lunch, Rahane fell victim to a wide delivery, edging it to a spectacular catch by Cameron Green at the gully. The following three wickets could only contribute 35 runs, although Thakur managed to reach his well-deserved half-century.

India’s bowling in the second innings demonstrated better control compared to the first. Mohammed Siraj extracted an uneven bounce, dismissing David Warner early on.

Marnus Labuschagne’s bat fell out of his hands twice upon impact, echoing a similar incident with Thakur. At one point, Labuschagne was swept off his feet. Umesh Yadav benefited from the mounting pressure, securing his first wicket of the match as Usman Khawaja wafted at a wide delivery.

ALSO READ: WTC final: Rahane returns as BCCI names squad

With Australia at 24 for 2, India hoped for further breakthroughs, especially with Labuschagne struggling. However, Steven Smith launched a quickfire innings, pushing India on the back foot. After setting himself up for a long stay at the crease in the first innings, Smith sought quick runs, scoring 12 off his first seven balls.

Ravindra Jadeja picked the wicket of Steve Smith (Photo Courtesy Twitter @BCCI)

 

However, Smith’s aggressive approach backfired when he attempted to charge left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja for the third time in the match. Unlike the previous occasions, the surface offered enough grip to induce an edge, resulting in a catch taken at point. Dismissing Smith for just 34 provided much-needed relief for India.

Jadeja further capitalised on the rough outside the left-handed Travis Head’s off stump, dismissing him as well. Labuschagne, positioned far outside the crease to face India’s quick bowlers, struggled to gain control.

Ending the day at 41 off 118 balls, Labuschagne, alongside Green, denied India any further success.

BRIEF SCORE (At Stumps on Day 3): Australia 469 & 123/4 (Marnus Labuschagne 41*; Ravindra Jadeja 2/25) lead India 296 (Ajinkya Rahane 89, Shardul Thakur 51; Pat Cummins 3/83) by 296 runs

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