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09-Jun-2023 22:34:00 GMT
Aus vs Ind - WTC Final, The Oval, day 3

India have hope after third-day final fightback

Australia 469 (Head 163, Smith 121, Siraj 4-108) and 123 for 4 (Labuschagne 41*, Jadeja 2-25) lead India 296 (Rahane 89, Shardul 51, Cummins 3-83) by 296 runs

London: India gave themselves a glimmer of hope with a stirring fightback against Australia on day three of the World Test Championship final at The Oval.

Australia were reduced to 123-4 in their second innings, a lead of 296 on a pitch that is becoming increasingly difficult to bat on.

That India are still just about in the contest is thanks to a seventh-wicket stand of 109 between Ajinkya Rahane and Shardul Thakur, made after KS Bharat was bowled by the second delivery of the day.

Rahane, lbw to a no-ball on Thursday, was dropped on Friday as he compiled a classy 89. Australia twice dropped Thakur, who was also leg before off a Pat Cummins no-ball, as he scrapped to 51.

It eventually took a spectacular catch from Cameron Green to remove Rahane and India were bowled out for 296, a deficit of 173.

Australia then lost David Warner and Usman Khawaja to slip to 24-2, only for Marnus Labuschagne and Steve Smith to defy the bowling, pitch and raucous crowd with a partnership of 62.

Smith and Travis Head fell playing wild shots to the left-arm spin of Ravindra Jadeja, but Labuschagne stood firm on 41 not out, in the company of Green, unbeaten on seven.

And although the day belonged to India, Australia's lead on this pitch is significant and they remain favourites to be crowned world champions.

Earlier, After India had added only one to their overnight 151-5, Scott Boland produced a nip-backer to splatter the stumps of Bharat and give the impression that Australia would hurry through the lower order.

But through bravery, luck and derring-do, Rahane and Thakur launched a thrilling fightback that rattled the Australians.

Between them, they were hit four times. Thakur was dropped by Khawaja on nought and Green on eight, while Rahane was missed by first slip Warner on 72 from a chance that wicketkeeper Alex Carey should have attempted. Like Rahane on Thursday, Thakur was given lbw only for replays to show Cummins over-stepped.

Amid the chaos, Rahane played graceful cover drives and pulled Cummins for six. Thakur favoured the cut in his third half-century in as many Test innings on this ground. Runs came at five an over.

It took a moment of athletic brilliance from Green to find the breakthrough. As Rahane pushed at Cummins, gully fielder Green flung his hulking frame to the right and grabbed the ball one-handed above his head.

From there, India lost their last four wickets for 35 runs, but the deficit was much smaller than it might have been from previous positions of 71-4 and 152-6.

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