Written By: Vineet Ramakrishnan
Last Updated: June 09, 2023, 20:05 IST
London, United Kingdom (UK)
After scoring 109 runs in the morning session on Day 3 of the WTC final against Australia at the Kennington Oval, London on Friday, India would have been in a happy space with two well-set batters in Ajinkya Rahane and Shardul Thakur in the middle. For India, the second session was all about how much of the 209-run deficit could the duo and the tail wipe out.
For Australia, the morning session was the first in the match in which they took the foot off the gas and they had to retaliate in the second session. And retaliate they did, courtesy a screamer of a catch from Cameron Green at gully to remove Rahane for 89. A superb innings under testing conditions coming to a grinding halt two overs into the second session.
Rahane had been given three reprieves and this time Cummins had his man finally when Rahane could only manage a thickish outside edge going for a going forward backfoot punch. Australia were back in it and it looked like India’s resistance in the morning session would come to pass.
Thakur though continued to motor along and with Mohammad Shami pushed India’s total closer to 300. He helped himself to a fifty, his third at the Oval putting him in the elite company of Sir Don Bradman as the only other batter to register three consecutive fifties plus scores at the Oval – From Don to Lord.
From 261/7, the tail took India to 294, reducing the deficit to 175 – still a big one, but India would take heart from the fact they rallied from 142/5 to 294. A credible effort, indeed. And it was time for the Indian bowlers to do course correction in the second innings and build on the little momentum given to them by Thakur and Rahane.
To their credit, Shami and Siraj more or less replicated their first spell from innings and bowled a probing line and length and kept David Warner and Usman Khawaja quiet. And like the first innings, Siraj provided an early breakthrough, yet again with the wobble seam that moved away after pitching taking a thickish outside edge of Warner (1), and Bharat obliged behind the stumps.
Marnus Labuschagne was taking a nap up in the dressing room balcony, but had to rush in and he was greeted with a nasty one that climbed up unexpectedly hitting Labuschagne flush on his left glove.
With the partisan crowd firmly behind India, Siraj and Shami let it rip and rip hard. By the time, Rohit Sharma introduced Thakur as the first change bowler, Siraj and Shami had given away just 16 runs in eight overs with just two fours. A top start for India.
The pitch still had some bite and with the new duke ball still moving around, Khawaja (13*) and Labuschagne (8*) were in for a tough phase, but they scratched and clawed to extend Australia’s lead to 196, taking tea at 23 for 1.
Brief Scores: Australia 23/1 (Usman Khawaja 13; Mohammad Siraj 1/14) & Australia 469 (Travis Head 163, Steve Smith 121; Mohammad Siraj 4/108) lead India 294 all out (Ajinkya Rahane 89, Shardul Thakur 51*; Pat Cummins 3/83) lead by 196 runs.