In the World Test Championship Final 2023, the Indian team staged a spirited fightback on the fourth day, ending at 164 for 3 in pursuit of the record-breaking target of 444 set by Australia. Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane remained unbeaten at the crease, with India requiring another 280 runs to win on the final day. The match hangs in the balance, with Australia still the favorites but needing to work hard to capture the remaining seven Indian wickets.
The Oval Pitch: A Surprising Ally for India
Contrary to expectations, the pitch at The Oval seemed to have eased out, offering less assistance to the bowlers and making life easier for the batsmen. This factor played a crucial role in India’s spirited chase, allowing their players to score at a brisk rate of over four runs per over. The lack of uneven bounce, which troubled both teams in the first two innings, was noticeably absent on the fourth day.
India’s Positive Approach
India’s positive intent was on display from the outset, with openers Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill sharing a brisk 41-run partnership before the latter fell just before the tea break. The post-tea session saw Rohit and Cheteshwar Pujara stitch together a crucial 51-run partnership, albeit ending in quick dismissals for both batsmen.
Undeterred by the setbacks, Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane continued with the same aggressive approach, adding an unbeaten 71-run stand for the fourth wicket. Their impressive control percentages of 93 and 97, respectively, highlighted their dominance over the Australian bowlers.
Despite the Indian batters’ flourish, the Australian bowlers refused to give up. Nathan Lyon claimed the crucial wicket of Rohit Sharma, while Pat Cummins accounted for Cheteshwar Pujara. Australia will look to make early inroads on the final day, hoping to capitalize on any lapses in concentration from the Indian batsmen.
The Day 4 Crowd: A Mixed Bag
The largely India-supporting crowd at The Oval played a significant role in the day’s proceedings. While they cheered enthusiastically for their team’s exploits, they also expressed their displeasure over a controversial catch taken by Cameron Green to dismiss Shubman Gill. Chants of “Cheat! Cheat! Cheat!” followed Green on the field, adding a new layer of drama to the already enthralling contest.
Australia’s Second Innings: Setting the Stage
Earlier in the day, Australia’s second innings saw useful contributions from Alex Carey (66) and Mitchell Starc (41), propelling their team to a declaration at 270 for 8. The Indian bowlers, led by Ravindra Jadeja (3-58), Mohammad Shami (2-39), and Umesh Yadav (2-54), tried their best to restrict the opposition but were ultimately thwarted by the lower-order partnerships.
Jadeja’s Impact with the Ball
Ravindra Jadeja’s left-arm spin proved to be a vital weapon for India, as he extracted sharp turn and bounce from the footmarks outside the left-handers’ off stump. While he managed to claim three wickets, his impact was felt even more in the pressure he applied on the Australian batsmen, who had to remain cautious against his guile.
Shami’s Persistence Pays Off
Mohammad Shami’s disciplined bowling and ability to beat the bat consistently without reward in his earlier spells finally reaped dividends when he returned with the second new ball. His late strikes, removing both Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins, provided some relief to the Indian camp, albeit not being enough to prevent Australia from setting a daunting target.
Memories of 1979
As the World Test Championship Final 2023 enters its final day, older fans in the crowd might be reminded of the 1979 Test match between India and England at The Oval. In that encounter, a Sunil Gavaskar double-hundred had inspired India to a thrilling draw, as they finished on 429 for 8 after being set a target of 438 by England. The stage is set for a similarly exciting finish in this high-stakes contest.
The Climactic Final Day
All eyes will be on The Oval as the fifth and final day of the World Test Championship Final 2023 unfolds. With India needing 280 runs and Australia requiring seven wickets, the match is tantalizingly poised. Both teams have displayed immense skill, determination, and character throughout the contest, setting the stage for a fitting finale to this prestigious event.
In summary, the fourth day of the World Test Championship Final 2023 saw India stage a remarkable fightback, with Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane leading from the front. Australia, however, remains the favorite, needing to capture seven more wickets to clinch the title. The stage is set for a thrilling final day, as both teams give their all in pursuit of the coveted championship.