World Test Championship: Australia beat India by 209 runs

London: Two years after Australia missed out on reaching the inaugural edition of the World Test Championship (WTC) Final, due to being penalised two points for a slow over-rate, the Pat Cummins-led side won the marquee event with a comprehensive 209-run win over India in the 2023 finale at The Oval.

With the resounding victory giving them their ninth ICC title, also their first-ever WTC crown, Australia has become the first team in men’s international cricket to win all major trophies. Their victory was set up on Day One of the five-day match by a 285-run partnership between ‘Player of the Match’ Travis Head (163) and Steve Smith (121) after Australia were sent in to bat first by India.

India commenced the fifth day’s play from 164/3 in 40 overs, with hopes brimming of conjuring the highest-ever successful chase in fourth innings of a Test match. That hope increased when Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane looked purposeful in their fourth-wicket partnership of 86 during an improbable chase of 444.

But once Scott Boland took out Kohli and Ravindra Jadeja in the space of three balls of the 47th over, it was effectively the knockout punch that Australia was waiting for. Despite some resistance from Rahane and K.S. Bharat, India were all out for 234 in 63.3 overs in the extended first session, losing their last seven wickets for 70 runs.

Veteran off-spinner Nathan Lyon was the pick of the Aussie bowlers with 4-41, followed by Boland (3/46), Mitchell Starc (2-77) and captain Pat Cummins (1-55) and was instrumental in Australia lifting the coveted Mace, which was the only silverware missing from their vast cupboard of trophies, coming ahead of the Ashes.

The defeat means India’s agonising wait to win an ICC title, which has been going on for almost ten years, continues. It is also their second straight loss in the WTC Finals after New Zealand defeated them by eight wickets in the inaugural edition of the one-off title clash at Southampton in 2021.

Australia began Day Five with discipline in line and length from Boland and Cummins, who seemed to hit the deck hard. Kohli and Rahane were content in rotating the strike, apart from the latter getting a four off a lucky edge. In a desperate bid to get Kohli out, Australia burnt a review for a caught-behind dismissal off Boland.

But a ball later, Boland enticed Kohli to go after a full and wide delivery, which he couldn’t resist chasing. The thick edge on the big drive from Kohli was caught by Steve Smith at second slip with both hands after diving to his right, as scores of Indian fans fell silent.


Ravi Shastri calls for India to start succession plan

London: After India’s crushing loss in the World Test Championship final against Australia, former head coach Ravi Shastri has said that it’s time for the team management and the selectors to chart a succession plan, saying that they need to draw inspiration from the Australian side in terms of blending youth with experienced players and getting them Test-match ready.

India will begin their 2023-2025 WTC cycle with a two-match series in the Caribbean on July 12. Dominica will host the first Test, which will be India’s first at the venue in over a decade. The Queen’s Park Oval in Trinidad will stage the second – and final – Test from July 20.

The West Indies tour might see the first signs of a transition for the ageing Test squad.

“That’s what the think-tank and the selectors will have to sit and see, draw a plan, have the vision to see how you replenish your squad. Australians are very good at doing that over the years. They see where they want to be in three years’ time. They don’t wait for suddenly five players to go away from the side,” Shastri told Star Sports after the WTC final.

Shastri feels that the Indian selectors need to take the “hard calls” and look at the team’s interest – as the paramount thing.

Image courtesy of File photo

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