Bowlers keep Australia on top after Smith, Head centuries

Bowlers keep Australia on top after Smith, Head centuries

Australia extended their advantage over India on day two of the ICC World Test Championship Final at the Oval, with the seamers running through the Indian top-order to leave Rohit Sharma’s side trailing by 318 runs at the close of play. After posting 469 in the first innings, Australia delivered a bowling masterclass, with all five bowlers sharing the wickets to reduce India to 151 for 5 at stumps.

Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill made a promising start with the bat, carting a few early boundaries off Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins to signal their intent. However, it didn’t take Australia too long to find the right lengths to trouble the Indian top order. Pat Cummins trapped Rohit Sharma on the pads with an in-dipper in the sixth over, while Shubman Gill had his stumps rattled by Scott Boland without offering a shot a few balls later.

Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara survived a testing spell from the Australian seamers before Tea, but the number three departed in the same fashion as Gill to start the final session, shouldering arms to a ball that seamed in from Cameron Green and crashed into the stumps. Mitchell Starc then added to India’s woes with the big wicket of Virat Kohli, getting a ball to rise sharply from a back of a good length. A front-footed Kohli was left surprised by the extra bounce and could only glove it to Steve Smith at second slip, leaving the Men in Blue reeling at 71 for 4.

Pat Cummins nearly made it five, but replays showed that he overstepped after trapping Ajinkya Rahane on his pads with a peach. The returning number five cashed in on his good fortune and steadied the Indian innings alongside Ravindra Jadeja after that lucky escape, with the left-hander seizing on anything overpitched from Mitchell Starc to lift the spirits of the Indian fans.

The pair added 71 runs for the sixth wicket but couldn’t see India through till stumps as Nathan Lyon joined the action, edging Jadeja to slip on 48 to close out another successful day for Australia.

Earlier, Steve Smith began the morning with a couple of boundaries to get to his 31st Test century, while Head crossed 150. However, the Indian bowlers did produce an improved performance to peg Australia back, removing both centurions and Cameron Green in quick succession before substitute fielder Axar Patel ran out Mitchell Starc with a superb direct hit.

Alex Carey, though, took Australia through till Lunch and launched a brief counter-attack to take the score past 450. The wicket-keeper eventually perished on 48, missing a reverse sweep against Jadeja, before Siraj cleaned up the tail, finishing with figures of 4 for 108, to dismiss Australia for 469.