India’s resistance did not last even a session on the fifth and final day of the 2023 World Test Championship final at The Oval in London on Sunday as any hopes of a fightback were blown away by injudicious shots from Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane, two batsmen who were key to the fightback.
The 209-run loss means that this is the second successive time India have lost the final of the apex Test competition, which is only two-edition old. They lost to New Zealand two years ago in the inaugural edition’s climax at Southampton.
Having tamed the Australian bowlers during their stay in the last session on Saturday, much was expected from both Kohli and Rahane.
But Australia unleashed their most accurate weapon, Scott Boland, who has kept a nagging length all through his spells in this WTC final, right at the start along with skipper Pat Cummins, another bowler who can dry up runs.
The first six overs yielded just 16 runs, which was slow going by the way the two India batsmen had batted the previous day.
Boland, in his fourth and Australia’s seventh over of the day, bowled first two balls close to Kohli’s stumps, beating the batsman once.
He then threw one wide as an enticement and Kohli caught the bait, edging it to a flying Steve Smith at second slip.
Ravindra Jadeja followed two balls later, unable to keep his bat away from the ball and edging it to wicket-keeper. The wind had been taken off the sails and it was left to Ajinkya Rahane to salvage some pride.
“We know how good Virat [Kohli] is, particularly while chasing. Scott [Boland] was hitting great areas. We knew we needed that (Kohli’s) wicket. Jadeja’s as well. That set us up for the morning,” said Smith after the match.
Rahane stayed for a while, playing some shots through cover, but then chased a wide one and edged it to slips. That broke India, and it was only a matter of time before they folded for 234.
“Australian spirits were lifted [with those wickets] and they just blew India away,” said former India coach Ravi Shastri after the match.
No wonder, Rohit Sharma was disappointed in the end.
He admitted that the pitch was good to bat on but India batted poorly. He also blamed bowlers for allowing Australian batsmen easy runs in first innings.
“It was a good pitch to bat on. The pitch behaved well on all days of the Test… We have worked hard for four years to make two finals of the World Test Championship. It is disappointing,” he said.