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WTC Final PIX: Australia heap misery on India

Last updated on: June 10, 2023 01:33 IST
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IMAGE: Cameron Green celebrates with his team-mates after taking the catch to dismiss Ajinkya Rahane off the bowling of Pat Cummins. Photograph: Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

Pat Cummins produced a vicious bowling onslaught to leave India battered and bruised as Australia took a 296-run lead on day three of the World Test Championship (WTC) final at The Oval in London on Friday.

Australia's four-man pace attack claimed nine wickets between them to dismiss India for 296 in their first innings, with captain Cummins picking up three scalps.

Australia will resume day four on 123/4 in their second innings with Marnus Labuschagne unbeaten on 41 along with Cameron Green on seven.

IMAGE: K S Bharat is bowled by Scott Boland. Photograph: Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

Earlier, Ajinkya Rahane blocked out the drama engulfing his team mates at the other end of the pitch as he top scored for India with 89, while Shardul Thakur survived some painful hits to his arm to contribute 51.

After a dismal showing on day two when India were left hanging on at 151/5 in response to Australia's first innings total of 469, the morning session got off to a painful start for the world's top-ranked team.

IMAGE: Ajinkya Rahane stroked 89, to take his tally to 5000 Test runs -- the 13th Indian to achieve the landmark. Photograph: Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

Fans were still filing into the ground in their thousands when fast bowler Scott Boland produced a ferocious delivery to dislodge K S Bharat's stumps with the second ball of the day.

As Bharat departed for five, India trailed the Australians by 317 runs and were left facing a monumental challenge to avoid following on.

Three overs later, Thakur felt the full force of the power being generated by the fast bowlers as he was whacked on his right arm by successive deliveries from Australia captain Cummins, prompting him to drop his bat as he winced in pain.

Thakur also received lifelines while on eight, when he was dropped at gully by Green, and survived an leg before shout on 36 when DRS showed Cummins had bowled a no ball.

While Thakur lived dangerously, Rahane went about rescuing India's hopes with his mix of delectable shot selection in the 109-run partnership for the seventh wicket.

IMAGE: Shardul Thakur hit his third half-century in a row at The Oval. Photograph: Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

He followed up an exquisite four with a belter of a six to bring up his 26th Test 50 as he shouldered the burden of a nation desperate to win their first global ICC trophy in 10 years and avoid suffering back-to-back defeats in WTC finals.

While he fell 11 runs short of scoring a century after Cummins had him caught by Green, the 35-year-old did cross 5,000 Test runs during his 129-ball knock which included 11 fours and a six.

Following Rahane's departure, Thakur steered India past the follow-on target before bringing up his 50 with a sumptuous four. However, soon after he edged a Green delivery straight into the gloves of wicketkeeper Alex Carey.

Rohit Sharma's side went into freefall following Rahane's dismissal as Umesh Yadav (5), Thakur (51) and Mohammed Shami (13) were out in quick succession as India lost their last four wickets for 35 runs.

IMAGE: Ravindra Jadeja celebrates the wicket of Travis Head. Photograph: Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

Such has been Australia's showing on a baking day in London, their number three batsman Labuschagne was among those who did not expect opener David Warner to survive less than four overs when he came out to bat in their second innings.

Eyes closed shut, the 28-year-old was caught napping with his feet up in the pavilion when he was rudely woken up by the loud cheers of the Indian fans who were celebrating Warner being caught behind for just one by wicket-keeper Bharat.

Blinking rapidly, he hurriedly grabbed his bat to make his way to the crease and from then on had his eye locked on the ball and heaped misery on the Indian bowlers.

Australia's two first-innings century-makers fell to wayward shots off Ravindra Jadeja's bowling. Steve Smith uncharacteristically skied a catch to Thakur, while Travis Head was caught and bowled moments after Yadav spilled a catch at the boundary that popped out of his hands for a six.

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