India faces a Herculean task, but there is hope yet. To claim the ICC World Test Championship title, the side will have to record the highest chase in history.
With 164 runs in the bag in pursuit of the 444-run target, India has put itself in contention. Virat Kohli (44 batting, 60b, 7x4) and Ajinkya Rahane (20 batting, 59b, 3x4) believe in the dream. On Sunday, the final day, 280 runs stand between India and a long-awaited ICC trophy.
The pitch at The Oval can spring a few awkward questions to batters, but overall, it is nowhere near a minefield. A steady, determined approach is all the batters need to get the job done.
IND vs AUS, WTC Final day 4 - As it happened
Kohli looked in good nick, placing the straight drives and flicks to perfection. Rahane, the hero of the first innings, was characteristically calm and composed at the crease. The Mumbai batter is batting with tape on his injured finger, but has not shown any signs of discomfort.
The India essay began with some drama. Opener Shubman Gill flashed at a ball outside off, getting an edge to gully. Cameron Green stuck his left hand out to latch on, but his hands brushed the ground as he fell. By conventional logic, the fact that Green had his fingers under the ball would tilt the argument in favour of a clean catch, but in this case, it was not clear cut.
The television umpire, Richard Kettleborough, declared Gill out. Captain and partner Rohit Sharma voiced his displeasure, and the crowd briefly directed chants of “cheat, cheat” in Green’s direction.
Rohit’s dismissal sometime later came as a huge blow. Rohit (43, 60b, 7x4, 1x6) settled in by pulling all short deliveries in great style. He was confident enough to walk down to Scott Boland, stroking one to the mid-wicket boundary.
When off-spinner Nathan Lyon was brought on, Rohit was expected to dominate. Instead, he completely missed a sweep and was struck on the pads in front of the middle stump. Australia was relieved, as a free-flowing Rohit could have made any target seem gettable.
Cheteshwar Pujara let himself down with a poor shot. Pujara brushed an upper-cut to the wicketkeeper when he would have been better served leaving it well alone.
Having snapped up Rohit and Pujara in the space of six balls, the Australians were over the moon.
Earlier, Alex Carry (66 n.o., 105b, 8x4) and Mitchell Starc (41, 57b, 7x4) put on a 93-run seventh-wicket partnership to keep the Indians at bay. The duo scored at a good rate, as the lead continued to bulge. Australia took the bold decision to declare well before Tea, leaving itself a little over four sessions to bowl India out.
Left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja posed the biggest threat, as he was primed to use the rough outside the left-hander’s off stump. Jadeja was on the money, taking three wickets.
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