WTC Final: Big score, top-order debacle leaves India with a mountain to climb against Australia

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Bowlers fail to sustain pressure before batsmen fail to stand up as Rohit & Co trail by 318 runs with five wickets in hand.

The destiny of the World Test Championship is firmly in the hands of Australia. After stretching their first innings total to 469, on a surface that could progressively deteriorate, they had India clutching at straws, half their side back in the pavilion with the score on 151. The picture on a sunlit day at The Oval could have been gloomier for India but for the resistance of Ajinkya Rahane and Ravindra Jadeja in their 71-run fifth-wicket stand.

India were less listless than they were on the first day, and Australia perhaps not as clinical as on the opening day. There were passages in the game when India fought back, there were phases in the game when Australia’s focus snapped, but India were so much behind Australia on the first day that they would end up playing catch-up until stumps were drawn.

Their best phase of the game came when Rahane and Jadeja absorbed pressure and released pressure with crisp stroke-making. Jadeja was the aggressor. He drove and flicked Mitchell Starc for three fours, whipped Scott Boland for a six; when Starc returned for another spell, he creamed him for three more hits to the fence. It was the old cavalier Jadeja, before Nathan Lyon ended his 51-ball 48 with a perfect off-spinner’s piece of deception, making him lunge at a wide off-break with hard hands.

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