WTC Final, Day 2: Bowlers put Australia in pole position at stumps after removing India’s top order
For the second straight day, Australia maintained their pole position in the World Test Championship final against India at The Oval. On Thursday, they posted 469 in the first innings, thanks to Travis Head’s 163 and Steve Smith’s 121 along with Alex Careys cameo of 48.
Their potent bowling unit used the fuller deliveries and bounce in the pitch to good effect to leave India on 151/5 in 38 overs at stumps, with Australia still leading by 318 runs. All of Australia’s five bowlers took a wicket as India’s top four batters failed to pass the 15 run mark.
A 71-run partnership between Ajinkya Rahane and Ravindra Jadeja kept India afloat till off-spinner Nathan Lyon took the latter out 15 minutes away from stumps, as Australia dominated another day of proceedings in the marquee clash.
The final session began with Cheteshwar Pujara playing a lovely on-drive off Scott Boland for four, followed by punching Cameron Green through off-side for another boundary. But Green bounced back as Pujara misjudged the line of the nip-backer coming in from outside off and saw the top of his off-stump being rattled, dismissed for 14.
Rahane, playing his first Test since January 2022, was off the mark by cutting a short and wide delivery off Boland over slip cordon for four, followed by pulling Pat Cummins for four. Mitchell Starc struck when he hit the pitch hard and got extra bounce to take the shoulder edge of Kohli’s bat and was caught at second slip.
Jadeja got going by driving past non-striker for four off Starc while Rahane brought out a pristine square drive off Cummins. Rahane was trapped lbw on 17 but replays showed Cummins had overstepped, giving him and India a huge sigh of relief, though later he took a blow on his thumb.
Jadeja continued to be fluent, driving and flicking off Starc for two boundaries. He followed it up by driving Green through mid-off for four more and flicked Boland extravagantly for six. Rahane played a lovely cover drive off Boland for four while Jadeja leaned into a drive off him as the duo brought up half-century of the partnership.
After steering past gully and getting a thick outside edge to take two fours off Starc, Jadeja fell for 48 when he lunged forward to defend against Nathan Lyon with hard hands, but the ball turned away to take the outside edge to slip. Rahane and KS Bharat, who took blows on elbow and chest, remained not out on 29 and 5 respectively to take India past 150 till stumps arrived.
Brief Scores: Australia 469 in 121.3 overs (Travis Head 163, Steve Smith 121; Mohammed Siraj 4/108, Shardul Thakur 2/83) lead India 151/5 in 38 overs (Ravindra Jadeja 48, Ajinkya Rahane 29 not out; Nathan Lyon 1/4, Cameron Green 1/22) by 318 runs