Ravindra Jadeja delivered an outstanding performance on Day 3 of the World Test Championship (WTC) final between India and Australia at the Oval. His exceptional bowling raised hopes of an improbable victory for India. At the close of play, Australia stood at 123/4 in 44 overs, with Marnus Labuschagne (41* off 118 balls) and Cameron Green (7* off 27 balls) unbeaten.
Earlier in the day, Ajinkya Rahane and Shardul Thakur formed a vital partnership that laid the groundwork for India’s fightback after facing significant pressure in the first two days. Umesh Yadav, the pace bowler, set a positive tone for India in the third session by dismissing Usman Khawaja cheaply. Khawaja edged a wide delivery outside the off-stump, resulting in a brilliant catch by KS Bharat.
Labuschagne and Steve Smith stabilized the Australian innings, maintaining a steady scoring rate. However, after 16 overs, Jadeja made a breakthrough by dismissing Smith, who couldn’t replicate his first-innings century. Jadeja, with his left-arm spin, secured his eighth career dismissal of the former Australian captain.
Jadeja’s impressive performance continued as he also took the wicket of Travis Head, who had scored a century in the first innings. In the 37th over, Head was dropped on the boundary by Umesh Yadav, resulting in a six. However, on the next delivery, Jadeja dismissed Head with a catch. This marked Australia’s final wicket of the day, with Green and Labuschagne surviving until stumps.
Before tea, Rahane and Thakur revived India’s hopes in the WTC final. However, the Australian bowlers, led by captain Pat Cummins, showcased their skills. Cummins dismissed Rahane early in the second session when the batsman was on the verge of reaching a century. Rahane was caught by Cameron Green in a spectacular catch.
Umesh Yadav attempted a quick cameo but was swiftly dismissed by Cummins, contributing only 5 runs. Thakur followed Rahane’s departure shortly after, trying to clear the boundary but edging the ball to wicketkeeper Alex Carey. Thakur’s aggressive knock came to an end at 51 runs.
With Thakur’s dismissal, India’s innings concluded at 296 runs in 69.4 overs, trailing Australia by 173 runs. In Australia’s second innings, the left-handed opening pair of David Warner and Usman Khawaja aimed to extend their team’s lead. However, Siraj struck early, dismissing Warner for just 1 run. Labuschagne and Khawaja survived the initial challenging period, taking Australia to 23/1 in 11 overs.
Australia began the third day similarly to the second day, with Boland breaching the defense of Indian wicketkeeper-batsman KS Bharat and hitting the stumps. Bharat fell early on Day 3, scoring 5 runs off 15 balls.
After Bharat’s dismissal, Rahane and Thakur focused on rebuilding the Indian innings. Rahane reached his 26th Test half-century in the 47th over under challenging circumstances. Thakur, known for his attacking style in Test cricket, fought back aggressively against the Australian bowlers, surviving some close calls.
In the final over of the first session, Shardul was initially given out LBW to Cummins. However, the decision was reviewed, and Cummins was found to have overstepped.
At the close of play on Day 3 of the WTC 2023 final, India trailed Australia by 209 runs.
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Jadeja, Rahane, Thakur achieve milestones in WTC final
Ravindra Jadeja made history during India’s World Test Championship final against Australia, becoming India’s most successful left-arm spinner in Test cricket, surpassing Bishan Singh Bedi. Jadeja took two wickets in Australia’s second innings, dismissing Steve Smith and Travis Head.
His overall Test record includes 267 wickets in 65 matches, with an average of 24.25 and an economy rate of 2.44. He is currently the fourth most successful left-arm spinner in Test cricket, behind Rangana Herath, Daniel Vettori, and Derek Underwood.
Jadeja has been in exceptional form this year, scoring 183 runs and taking 25 wickets in five matches. In international cricket in 2023, he has scored 262 runs and claimed 27 wickets in eight matches.
Meanwhile, Shardul Thakur equalled Sir Don Bradman’s record by becoming the third visiting player to achieve three consecutive 50-plus scores at The Oval in Test cricket. Thakur’s counterattacking innings of 51 runs off 109 balls marked his third consecutive half-century at The Oval, following his scores of 57 (36) and 60 (72) in his previous matches between 2021 and 2023.
He became the first player from India to accomplish this feat, breaking Australia’s previous dominance. The only other players to achieve this unique record were Sir Don Bradman, who did so from 1930 to 1934, and Allan Border, who achieved it between 1985 and 1989.
Also achieving a personal milestone was Ajinkya Rahane who joined an elite group of Indian batters by surpassing 5000 runs in Test cricket. He became the 13th Indian player to achieve this milestone.
Rahane played a crucial innings under pressure, scoring 89 runs off 129 balls to keep India’s hopes alive in their pursuit of the WTC 2023 trophy. His innings included 11 fours and a six. Starting the day at a score of 151/5, Rahane formed a partnership with Shardul Thakur, adding 110 runs to the Indian total.