For a brief moment, Ajinkya Rahane and Ravindra Jadeja appeared to be able to save India, but Nathan Lyon’s late goal gave Australia another victory.
Australia 469 (Head 163, Smith 121, Siraj 4-108) leads India 151 for 5 (Jadeja 48, Boland 1-29, Lyon 1-4) by 318 runs.
Australia’s Bowlers Dominate India, Take Command in World Test Championship Final
Australia’s bowlers showed India where they had gone wrong on day one, their quicks settling into the perfect length on a helpful Oval pitch as their side took control of the World Test Championship final. By stumps on day two, Australia had reduced India to 151 for 5 in reply to their first-innings total of 469.
As their team grabbed control of the World Test Championship final, Australia’s bowlers demonstrated to India exactly where they had gone wrong on day one. Their quicks settled into the ideal length on a still-helpful Oval wicket. Thanks to Australia, India’s response to their first-innings total of 469 was reduced to 151 for 5 by stumps on day two.
Despite this, India’s main problems were not caused by their selection of four fast bowlers but rather by how they bowled. To constantly test the stumps and put all ways of dismissal into play on a pitch that bounced more than the ordinary Indian surface, they had to pitch the ball broader than usual. They didn’t do this often enough, and even though their bowlers rallied to take 7 for 142 in the early part of day two, it may have been too little, too late, because they had allowed Australia to cruise to 327 for 3 on day one easily.
Australia’s fast bowlers stepped out and demonstrated how it’s done on a field that was already starting to show fractures all over its surface after being bowled out nearly precisely halfway through the day’s play. While Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill got off to a brisk start and Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins routinely overpitched at the beginning of their new-ball stints, it only seemed a matter of time before the quicks found out the right length – full but not driveable.
The final ball of the sixth over was hammered by Cummins, who nipped it in and trapped Rohit in front of it. After bowling nine probing dot balls to the two openers, Scott Boland, who appeared to have been created in a lab to bowl in these circumstances, produced a vicious in-dipper that Gill tragically shouldered arms to.
Before Cameron Green produced a copy of the Boland ball that had bowled, Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, and Virat Kohli put on 20 each before tea, looking in fine form but always cautious of the seam movement and occasionally uneven bounce that marked this surface. India was 50 for 3 as Pujara replicated Gill’s reaction, with all three of their top batters being bowled or lbw.
When Starc returned, he entered the fray with a brutal ball to Kohli that was slanted across from a left-arm over and took off from a length, making it 71 for 4. Pressing forward, Kohli could not correctly navigate the situation and could only glove the ball to second slip.
If Cummins had not stepped out when he delivered a peach that straightened from that ideal fullish length to beat Rahane’s outside edge and strike his back pad roughly in front of off stump, Rahane might have fallen shortly after. After being called out on the pitch, Rahane examined the play, and replays revealed the no-ball; ball tracking revealed two reds and an umpire’s call determination on the line of impact.
Over the past two English summers, batting against the old Duke’s ball has been much more straightforward than it has been against the new one, with Nos. 5 and 6 here since the beginning of 2022 averaging a world-leading 53.08 while Nos. 1 to 4 average 31.28 — they’ve only performed worse in the West Indies (31.00) during this time. India’s fifth-wicket combination appeared much more at ease than their top-order counterparts after an early nervous spell that included the near lbw call and two leading edges from Jadeja.
Jadeja, who benefited from Australia’s bowlers, particularly Starc, routinely overpitched to him, rumbled along at over a run per ball. At the same time, Rahane, making his first comeback to Test cricket since January 2022, clicked along more slowly but still looked just as fluid. With his ninth delivery of the game, Lyon shattered India’s hopes that their partnership would last till stumps.
With Steven Smith five runs shy of reaching his 31st Test hundred and Travis Head four short of calling 150, the day had started bright and sunny. They promptly reached their respective milestones, with Mohammed Siraj giving Smith two straight half-volleys in the morning’s first over to give India a concerning start to the day.
However, things got better as short balls repeatedly targeted Head’s body, and on 163, the left-hander gloved Siraj down the leg side. The No. 6 Green was then sent back by Mohammed Shami, who delivered a stunning shot by slanting a whole ball in from beyond the crease to deflect a careless drive away from the body.
The next to go was Smith, who continued to play for 121 by pushing out from his body at a harmless Shardul Thakur away-curler. India had scored three runs before Australia hit 400, and they may have thought they could end their innings soon after, but Alex Carey’s counterattacking 48 pushed the score above 450. Carey rode his luck until falling recognisably, lbw when attempting a reverse sweep off a stump-to-stump delivery from Jadeja. It was especially true against Umesh Yadav, who struck Carey’s bat repeatedly in a brief stretch after lunch.
In the end, Siraj was India’s most effective bowler, finishing with figures of 4 for 108, while Shami and Thakur both claimed two wickets. That was the first Australian wicket to go to spin.
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