WTC final: Australia lead India by 296 runs at close of Day 3
London/UNI: Marnus Labuscgane and Cameron Green ensured they did not lose their wickets and extended Australia's lead by 296 runs over India on Day 3 of the WTC final at The Oval here on Friday.
Green and Labuschagne are batting on 7 and 41, respectively, with Australia's scoreline reading 123/4 in the second innings on a deteriorating pitch. Earlier in the day, the Indian first innings folded for 296, in reply to Australia's 469.
For India, Ajinkya Rahane and Shardul Thakur were the heroes of the day with their bats. They cracked crucial fifties, and Ravindra Jadeja picked two quick wickets to throw some challenge to the Aussies.
Australia are clear favourites as of now, though they won't take India lightly.
After taking a 173 -run lead, Australia could have batted India out of the game, but the Indian bowlers put a tight leash. As usual, Mohammad Siraj struck early by sending back David Warner for 1, and Usman Khawaja and Labuschagne went into the shell.
Khawaja nicked Umesh Yadav to wicketkeeper Srikar Bharat for 13, and in came Steven Smith and started piercing the gaps for boundaries. He did the bulk of the scoring in the 62 runs partnership for third wicket with Labuschagne, but fell to Ravindra Jadeja, caught Shardul while trying a wild lofted shot.
Jadeja removed Travis Head quickly for 18 as he got the ball to turn sharply off the rough.
Earlier, Australia got off to a splendid start with Scott Boland castling overnight batsman Srikar Bharat of the very second ball of the day. They would have looked to run through India's innings, but dropped three catches and the TV umpire no-balled Pat Cummins to deny him Shardul's wicket.
These events emboldened Rahane and Shardul to stitch an all-important 109 runs stand for 7th wicket, after India were in doldrums at 152/6. Their contribution helped India avoid the follow-on and pushed their total close to 300.
Resuming the post-lunch session at 260/5, India lost their remaining wickets with the addition of only 36 runs.
Green took a stunner in the gully and broke the 7th wicket partnership of 109 runs between Shardul Thakur and Ajinkya Rahane, who made a brilliant 89 runs.
After that, India's end was near. Pat Cummins got Umesh Yadav and Shardul. who fell immediately after cracking a valiant 51. Mohammad Shami was the last wicket to fall.
Shami and Siraj started the second stint as they did in the first. They bowled a probing line and length, and soon removed David Warner for one, caught behind the stumps by Srikar Bharat off Siraj.
Labuschagne took a couple of blows and outlasted a runout opportunity, and Usman Khawaja looked solid in contrast to the first innings.
Earlier, Rahane and Shardul batted almost the whole of the first session after Scott Boland castled overnight batsman Srikar Bharat on the second ball of the day. But Rahane put his foot down as he always does during a crisis, and he had the company of the stocky bowling-allrounder Shardul at the other end.
Cummins tested with some snorters soon after Shardul arrived at the crease. The Indian batsman was struck twice on his arm, and then received a couple of body blows.
But Shardul did not give up, and spanked a couple of boundaries with grit and swagger. It could have been a different essay if Australia had held on to their chances.
Three catches were spilled in the session. Rahane was lucky once and Shardul twice. The latter also was lucky to have survived an lbw decision as the TV umpire no-balled Cummins.