Sloppy Australia stay on top in WTC final

June 10, 2023

LONDON: India´s Ravindra Jadeja took two prize wickets but Australia remained in command of the World Test Championship final despite an error-strewn display at The Oval on Friday.Jadeja removed first-innings century-makers Steve Smith and Travis Head but a third day of dropped catches, wickets off no-balls and rash shots still ended with Australia 296 runs ahead at 123-4 in their second innings. Marnus Labuschagne, the world´s top-ranked Test batsman, survived several painful blows on a pitch of variable bounce to be 41 not out at stumps.


When Scott Boland knocked over Srikar Bharat´s stumps with just the second ball of the day, India were 317 runs behind with only four first-innings wickets standing. But Ajinkya Rahane (89) and Shardul Thakur (51) then made the most of Australia´s mistakes a week before the first Ashes Test against England during a seventh-wicket stand of 109. India surged past the follow-on total before they were eventually dismissed for 296.Australia captain Pat Cummins took 3-83 in his 20 overs but his figures would have been better but for six no-balls. And Australia were 2-1 when under-pressure opener David Warner, who had managed just one century in his previous 33 Test innings, was caught behind off Mohammed Siraj. Usman Khawaja, Warner´s opening partner, fell cheaply for the second time this match when, on 13, he followed a first-innings duck by carelessly edging a wide ball from Umesh Yadav to wicketkeeper Bharat as the paceman took his first wicket of the final.

Left-arm spinner Jadeja then removed Smith and Head, although both batsmen played a part in their own downfall. Star batsman Smith had spent just over five-and-a-half hours at the crease for 121 in Australia´s first-innings 469. But on Friday he gave his wicket away for 34 when he skyed a drive off Jadeja to cover.Head´s dynamic 163 had established Australia´s strong position in the final. He continued to attack Friday only for a quickfire 18 to end when, attempting a booming drive against the turn out of the rough, his miscued shot gave Jadeja a simple return catch. Australia were now 111-4, still a lead of 284 against an India side missing Ravichandran Ashwin after the star off-spinner, the world´s top-ranked Test bowler, was omitted in favour of an extra seamer. Earlier, both Rahane and Thakur were struck by nasty blows, while all-rounder Thakur was dropped twice in single figures, including on eight when he edged Cummins to gully only for Cameron Green to floor a straightforward chance. And just before lunch Thakur appeared lbw to fast bowler Cummins only for the batsman´s review to reveal a no-ball.

India won the toss

Australia 1st Innings 469

India 1st Innings

Rohit (c) lbw b Cummins 15

Shubman b Boland 13

Cheteshwar b Green 14

Virat c Smith b Starc 14

Ajinkya c Green b Cummins 89

Ravindra c Smith b Lyon 48

Srikar b Boland 5

Shardul c Carey b Green 51

Umesh b Cummins 5

Shami c Carey b Starc 13

Siraj not out 0

Extras: (b 10, lb 10, nb 8, w 1) 29

Total: 69.4 Ov 296

Fall of wickets: 1-30, 2-30, 3-50,

4-71, 5-142, 6-152, 7-261, 8-271, 9-294, 10-296

Bowling: Mitchell Starc 13.4-0-71-2, Pat Cummins 20-2-83-3, Scott Boland 20-6-59-2, Cameron Green 12-1-44-2, Nathan Lyon 4-0-19-1

Australia 2nd Innings

Usman c Bharat b Yadav 13

David c Bharat b Siraj 1

Steven c Thakur b Jadeja 34

Marnus Labuschagne not out 41

Travis c & b Jadeja 18

Cameron Green not out 7

Extras: (b 4, lb 2, nb 2, w 1) 9

Total: 44 Ov 123/4

Fall of wickets: 1-2, 2-24, 3-86, 4-111

Bowling: Mohammed Shami 8-3-15-0, Mohammed Siraj 12-2-41-1, Shardul Thakur 6-1-13-0, Umesh Yadav 5-1-16-1, Ravindra Jadeja 9-3-25-2

Umpires: Gaffaney, Illingworth