LONDON: Australia dominated the World Test Championship (WTC) final here on Thursday after Australia scored 469 runs in the first innings to reduce India’s score to 151 for five at the end of the second day’s play. Australia lost the remaining seven wickets by adding 142 runs to their yesterday’s score. Mohammad Siraj was India’s most successful bowler, taking four wickets for 108 runs. Shardul Thakur (2/83) and Mohammed Shami (2/122) also took two wickets each.
For Australia, Travis Head scored 163 off 174 balls while Smith scored 121 off 268 balls. Smith scored his 31st Test century. In response, India had lost four wickets for 71 runs but Ajinkya Rahane (29 not out) and Ravindra Jadeja (48) added 71 runs for the fifth wicket to put an end to the fall on wickets.
Jadeja, however, fell victim to off-spinner Nathan Lyon in the dying moments of the day’s play. At the end of the day’s play, Shrikar Bharat was supporting Rahane by scoring five runs. India still trails Australia’s first-innings score by 318 runs. The team still needs 119 runs to avoid the follow-on. India got off to a poor start in reply to Australia’s mammoth score.
India scored 37 runs in 10 overs before the tea break, losing the wickets of captain Rohit Sharma (15) and Shubman Gill (13). Rohit was lbw by Australia captain Pat Cummins while Gill was bowled in an attempt to drop an inside ball from Scott Boland.
After tea, India had high hopes for Cheteshwar Pujara (14) and Virat Kohli (14), who have been in good form in the English county circuit, but both of them were disappointed. Pujara too, like Gill, was bowled by completely missing Cameron Green’s attempt to leave the inside ball. Mitchell Starc then gave the fourth blow to India by getting Kohli caught by Smith in the slip on a bouncing ball. Jadeja and Rahane handled the innings after this. Cummins had Rahane lbw on a personal score of 17 runs but after taking DRS it was found that it was a no-ball.
Jadeja hit two fours in the next over of Stark, while Green’s ball was also seen for the boundary. India’s 100 runs were completed in 26 overs. After hitting a six off Boland, Jadeja also hit two fours on Starc but was caught by Smith in the slip off off-spinner Lyon. He hit seven fours and a six in his 51-ball innings. However, Jadeja and Bharat did not let India suffer further setbacks after this.
Earlier, Australia started the day with 327 runs for three wickets. Smith, who went on to play ahead of 95 runs today, completed his seventh century in England and third on this ground with two consecutive fours in Siraj’s first over of the day. India did not use the bouncer much in the beginning on the first day but Siraj and Shami used the short-pitched balls well in the first session on the second day.
Although Smith played smoothly against the rising balls, Head looked uncomfortable. In the sixth over of the day, in an attempt to play Siraj’s short ball towards the lead side, head wicketkeeper Shrikar returned to the pavilion by catching Bharat. He hit 25 fours and a six in his innings.
Cameron Green also could not last long and in an attempt to drive Shami’s ball, he was caught by Shubman Gill at second slip. Smith also returned to the pavilion after playing the ball outside the off side of Shardul Thakur on the wickets. This was Shardul’s first ball of the day. Smith hit 19 fours.
Substitute Akshar Patel ran in from mid-off to run out Mitchell Starc with a sharp shot at the stumps to give India their fourth breakthrough of the day. Alex Carey (48 runs) took Australia’s score beyond 450 runs by playing some attractive shots. Carey hit Ravindra Jadeja for a six but the left-arm spinner was tripped while trying to reverse-sweep the ball and it did not take long for the Australian innings to collapse.
Carey was not given out by the on-field umpire but the decision went in India’s favor after taking DRS. Siraj bowled Nathan Lyon (09) and then caught Cummins (09) by Ajinkya Rahane to end Australia’s innings.