Sunday, June 16, 2024

WTC Final: India stage fightback with four wickets as Australia reach 422/7 at lunch

After taking only three wickets on day one of World Test Championship final at The Oval, India staged a spirited fightback in the first session of second day’s play with four scalps, including of centurions Travis Head and Steve Smith, as Australia reached 422/7 in 109 overs at lunch, here on Thursday.

Though Australia are still ahead in the final as they amassed 95 runs in the morning session, they weren’t able to dominate thoroughly thanks to the Indian bowling line-up sticking to their plans of bowling on good areas.

India would want for their bowlers to continue doing the same in the second session on a pitch, where some deliveries misbehaved as sun shined bright, with Alex Carey and captain Pat Cummins unbeaten on 22 and 2 respectively at lunch.

The day began with Mohammed Siraj bowling two successive half-volleys to Smith, who flicked dazzlingly on both deliveries to reach his 31st Test hundred, also his seventh century in England.

On the other hand, Head reached his fourth 150-plus score in Tests with his trademark cut on the backfoot going for four off Mohammed Shami. When Siraj and Shami angled short balls towards him, Head was quick to pull easily for two boundaries.

India’s tactic to bowl short to Head gave them success finally in the 92nd over when he tried to shuffle across to use Siraj’s pace, but gloved the pull to KS Bharat, as the massive 285-run partnership for the fourth wicket came to an end with the left-hander making 163.

One brought two for India as Cameron Green fell after nicking to second slip taking a sharp catch in front of his face off Shami. Four overs later, they fetched more success as Smith chopped on his stumps off an outswinger from Shardul Thakur, falling for 121.

Amidst all this, Alex Carey found boundaries thrice, one of which came off a streaky inside edge. After Australia crossed 400-mark, Mitchell Starc was beaten by Siraj twice. He was then run-out while going for a quick single, thanks to substitute fielder Axar Patel’s sharp one-handed direct hit from mid-off.

Brief Scores: Australia 422/7 in 109 overs (Travis Head 163, Steve Smith 121; Shardul Thakur 2/83, Mohammed Shami 2/102) against India

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