London: Australia looked to be in a prime position to win the World Test Championship (WTC) Final when they declared on 270/8 and set India a daunting target of 444, something which has never happened in the successful fourth innings chase in history of Test cricket
But Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane put together a solid unbeaten 71-run partnership on yet another day of gripping Test cricket action and took India to 164/3 at stumps on Day Four, keeping India alive in the chase with 280 runs needed on the final day of the match on Sunday.
On a pitch that has flattened out and looks devoid of demons in terms of movement and bounce, Kohli was in fantastic touch to be 44 not out off just 60 balls. On the other hand, Rahane is unconquered on 20 as the duo set up the match towards an exciting finish, while Australia will be aiming to get seven right balls to bowl out India quickly.
Cheteshwar Pujara began the final session by cracking a fierce cut through point off Scott Boland for four while surviving an inside edge off him for another boundary. Rohit Sharma continued to be in great touch, pulling and driving beautifully off Mitchell Starc to bring’India’s fifty in just nine overs.
Pujara followed it up by gently clipping and driving through mid-off against Starc for boundaries, followed by a flick off Cummins to pick another four. Rohit was exquisite in his cut shot off Starc and pull against Green to pick a brace of fours to raise fifty of the partnership.
But Australia bounced back by taking out the duo in quick succession. Rohit tried to sweep against Nathan Lyon from around the wicket, but the ball went under the bat to be trapped lbw. Pujara, meanwhile, tried to upper-cut against Cummins but got a thick toe-edge behind to keeper Alex Carey.
Kohli looked in the zone from the time he arrived at the crease — bringing his bottom-hand and supple wrists into play to hit five boundaries off pacers in the arc from mid-on to backward square leg, apart from a glorious off-drive against Starc for another boundary.
Rahane, playing with an injured right index finger, proved to be his perfect partner, oozing pristine timing in his sweep, steer, and drive. Kohli again brought out the bright off-drive against Starc for four and ended the day by glancing Lyon through fine leg for another four.
Australia 469 and 270/8 decl. in 84.3 overs (Alex Carey 66 not out, Mitchell Starc 41; Ravindra Jadeja 3-58, Mohammed Shami 2-39) lead India 296 and 164/3 in 40 overs (Virat Kohli 44 not out, Rohit Sharma 43; Nathan Lyon 1-32, Scott Boland 1-38) by 280 runs