WTC Final, 2nd Session | Shardul Thakur's Herculean Knock Saves India's Blushes
Thakur scored 51 in the first innings [AP Photos]
There is a reason he's called 'Lord' Shardul Thakur. The all-rounder proved his worth once again at the biggest stage of them all and helped India avoid the follow-on in the WTC final on Friday.
He wasn't the only star for India in their tricky first innings, with Ajinkya Rahane, playing a superb knock on his Test return as the duo took India out of a precarious situation to post 296 on the board.
It won't be an understatement to say that luck was with the Indian team as a number of catches were dropped, but fortune favours the brave and it favoured India today.
Green finally holds onto a catch!
Green had a nightmare on the field, dropping Shardul Thakur when he came at the crease. Shardul made him pay with a scintillating half-century that helped India came out of their shell. However, the Aussie all-rounder, Green, made up for it when he grabbed a screamer to dismiss Rahane on 89.
Rahane edged a Pat Cummins delivery and Green, standing at gully stretched with a dive to his right and grabbed a stunner to sent him back.
Shardul or Bradman?
There is no denying that Shardul loves an outing at the Oval. He scored twin fifties in the Oval Test against England in 2021, and repeat that herculean feat with yet another half-century under immense pressure.
He copped body blow after body blow, but didn't back down and went onto score crucial runs in the context of the game. In the process, he became just the second overseas batter to smash three fifties in a row at the Oval. The other cricketer to achieve this feat? the great Sir Don Bradman.
Indian bowlers with their tails up
With India getting bundled out for 296, Australia had a lead of 173 runs. The only way India could have made a comeback is by picking up some early wickets. Both Mohammed Siraj and Mohammad shami had their tails up and the Australian batters found it difficult to get going.
Siraj was eventually rewarded with the wicket of David Warner, who nicked one back to the keeper and was sent early for just 1.
Just like the first innings, Siraj was outstanding in the second innings as well, beating the outside-edge multiple times, but was really unlucky not to have picked up more than one wicket. The Aussies weathered the early storm, and went to the tea break without any further damage.
India need wickets. That's the only way they can crawl back in this contest. The next session could decide the fate of the WTC final.
For Australia, time is with them, and they just need to continue the basics and pile on some runs to put the pressure on India.
India (1st innings): 296-10 (69.4)
Ajinkya Rahane 89 (129), Shardul Thakur 51 (109);
Pat Cummins 3-83 (20), Cameron Green 2-44 (12)
Australia (2nd innings): 23-1 (11)
Usman Khawaja 13* (32), Marnus Labuschagne 8* (26)
Mohammed Siraj 1-14 (5).