Australia crush India to win WTC final
A fired-up Australia wasted little time in crushing Indian hopes of staging a final-day miracle as they romped to a 209-run victory in the World Test Championship (WTC) final on Sunday.
Needing to score 280 runs on the final day to overhaul the mammoth 444 victory target set by Australia, Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane were cheered all the way to the pitch as they came out to resume India's second innings on 164-3.
However, the boisterous fans at The Oval were left muted and dejected as Scott Boland and his fellow Australian bowlers ripped through the Indian batting order to dismiss the world's top ranked team for 234 and wrap up victory before the lunch break.
The Indians lost their last seven wickets for the addition of just 70 runs on the final day of the contest, leaving the jubilant Australians to come together in a celebratory huddle.
"It's been a fantastic test match... some fantastic cricket to watch. And yeah, we're just really we're gonna enjoy this moment," said Australian paceman Mitchell Starc, who picked up four wickets in the match.
Kohli and Rahane came out shouldering the hopes of a nation desperate to win their first global ICC trophy in 10 years and avoid suffering back-to-back defeats in WTC finals. But within 35 minutes of the session starting, India lost two wickets in the space of three balls to leave the arena deathly silent.
Former captain Kohli added only five runs to his overnight score of 44 when he edged a fizzing Boland delivery to a diving Steve Smith at second slip.
His replacement, Ravindra Jadeja, lasted only two balls before departing for a duck. The left-hander misjudged Boland's line and length and nicked the ball into the gloves of wicketkeeper Alex Carey to leave India staring into the abyss on 179-5.
The odds were already stacked against India before the start of the day's action as no team had successfully chased down such a high target in the fourth innings of a test.
But Rohit Sharma's men still harboured hopes off pulling off a miracle win like they did in Australia's own Gabba backyard two years ago, when India completed a record-breaking final day chase to win the test and end Australia's 32-year undefeated run at the Brisbane ground.
When Rahane (46) and Shardul Thakur (0) were dismissed in successive overs to leave India floundering on 213-7, fans were left wondering whether the contest would even last until the lunch break.
They soon got their answer.
Rahane, who top-scored in India's first innings with 89, appeared to be heading towards a second successive half century but instead was left dumbfounded when his attempted drive off Starc ended up in the hands of Carey.
Following his exit, Australia quickly got rid of Thakur, Umesh Yadav (1), KS Bharat (23), and Mohammed Siraj (1) as India lost their last five wickets for just 22 runs.