Australia's Nathan Lyon celebrates the wicket of India's Ravindra Jadeja during Day two of the test match between India and Australia in the ICC World Test Championship (WTC) final at The Oval, in London on Thursday. (ANI Photo)
London: Australia tore out Virat Kohli and India's top order cheaply after finishing on 469 on day two of the World Test Championship final at the Oval on Thursday.
India was 151-5 at stumps, trailing by 318 runs. For the first time in test history, none of the India top four scored more than 15 runs.
They could have been 87-5 but Australia captain Pat Cummins overstepped, reversing a back-pad leg before decision against Ajinkya Rahane.
Rahane, on 17 at the time, crawled to an unbeaten 29 in his first test in 18 months. Srikar Bharat was with him on 5 after taking hits to his chest and left elbow.
Australia was all out inside an hour after lunch, but as its innings was ending it was enthralled about how the pitch was behaving; sideways movement, and variable bounce which its seamers have traditionally better exploited more consistently than India's.
India’s openers were gone by tea. Captain Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill were dismissed in the space of five balls.
Sharma lasted less than half an hour. After an exciting 15, he was rapped on the front knee roll by Cummins and out leg before. He walked after Gill told him not to review.
Gill had 13 when he didn’t play a shot to a nip-backer by Scott Boland and saw his off and middle stumps splayed.
Resuming after tea at 37-2, Cheteshwar Pujara did a Gill, leaving alone a full-length delivery by Cameron Green which hit his off stump. Pujara scored 14.
Kohli was on 14, too, when he was stunned by a Mitchell Starc riser nicking his gloves and Steve Smith at second slip leaping high for the catch. Kohli walked in to a roar from the sun-soaked crowd of 23,666 and walked off to barely a murmur.
Rahane survived the no ball, the fourth by Cummins in his first eight overs, and he and Jadeja shared a defiant stand of 71.
Rahane, more circumspect, took a hit to his right ear by Green while Jadeja took the attack to Australia, clipping a couple of Starc deliveries to the fence in one over and flicking over square leg the first six Boland conceded in test cricket.
Jadeja's rollicking innings ended on 48 from 51 balls 21 minutes before stumps when spinner Nathan Lyon's ninth delivery found turn and bounce, touched left-handed Jadeja and slid into Smith's hands.
That gave all of Australia's bowlers a wicket each.
“We are in a really good spot,” Boland said. “The pitch is going a little bit up and down so it should be harder for the India batters tomorrow. A couple of balls were taking off, even when we were batting this morning, while a few have been keeping low as well. So it's nice.”
At the start of the day, Australia was 327-3 and overnight batters Smith and Travis Head didn't waste time reaching milestones.
Head, resuming on 146, hit the morning's first ball for a single to give Smith, on 95, the strike. Smith flicked the next two half-volleys to the boundary to raise his 31st hundred in his 97th test. This was Smith's seventh test hundred in England. Of all the overseas players to score hundreds in England in test history, only Don Bradman has more, with 11.
India bowling coach Paras Mhambrey criticized his bowlers after the first day for not targeting Head's short-ball weakness sooner. Head passed 150 for the fourth time among his six test hundreds but the seamers stuck at it and got Head after half an hour, guiding a Mohammed Siraj short ball straight to Bharat.
Head made 163 off 174 balls, 25 boundaries and a six.
It was the end of a magnificent stand of 285 between him and Smith after nearly five hours.
Smith surprised. India couldn't touch him and Smith did it for them when he chopped on against Shardul Thakur. Smith had 121 runs from 268 balls with 19 boundaries. He didn't walk off satisfied.
“This morning I couldn't ask for anything more than two half-volleys on my pad to get me going,” Smith said. “I was proud of the way I played. I thought I applied myself nicely. Hit the balls in my area and pretty solid in defense. I thought the way (Head) took the game on, put the pressure back on their bowlers, got them off their lengths, helped me at the other end. Set us up for a nice innings.”
The last seven wickets were taken for 108 runs in a good comeback by India when Australia threatened 500-plus while Head and Smith were in.
After the morning exits of both century-makers, only Alex Carey reached double figures.
Carey had 48 after hitting Jadeja high over the mid-on fence, but he lunged at the next ball for an ill-advised reverse sweep and missed. India reviewed the not out call and got Carey lbw.
Carey appeared not to have learned his lesson on the tour of India in February-March when he was out making the same shot three times in six bats. Australia's last recognized batter missed a fourth half-century and, more importantly, a chance to shepherd the tail to a 500 total.
Siraj led the India attack with four wickets, notably Head's, and Mohammed Shami and Thakur took two each. (AP)