World Test Championship: Australia defeats India by 209 runs to win the Mace for the first time
World Test Championship: Australia defeats India by 209 runs to win the Mace for the first time
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London, June 11: Two years after missing out on the inaugural World Test Championship (WTC) Final due to a two-point penalty for a slow over-rate, Australia won the marquee event with a comprehensive 209-run win over India in the 2023 finale at The Oval on Sunday.

With the emphatic victory, Australia has won their ninth ICC championship as well as their first WTC trophy, making them the first team in men’s international cricket to win all major trophies. After India put Australia in to bat first, a 285-run partnership between ‘Player of the contest’ Travis Head (163) and Steve Smith (121) set up Australia’s triumph on Day One of the five-day contest.

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India began the fifth day’s play at 164/3 in 40 overs, with hopes of achieving the highest-ever successful chase in a Test match’s fourth innings. That optimism grew when Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane seemed intent in their 86-run fourth-wicket stand amid an unlikely chase of 444.

But when Scott Boland struck out Kohli and Ravindra Jadeja in the 47th over, it was essentially the fatal blow that Australia had been waiting for. Despite considerable fight from Rahane and K.S. Bharat, India were all out for 234 in 63.3 overs in the first session’s extended session, losing seven wickets for 70 runs.

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

The setback extends India’s painful quest for an ICC crown, which has lasted almost 10 years. It is also their second consecutive defeat in the WTC Finals, having been beaten by New Zealand by eight wickets in the first edition of the one-off championship match in Southampton in 2021.

Australia opened Day Five with line and length discipline from Boland and Cummins, who seemed to hit the deck hard. Except for a four off a fortuitous edge, Kohli and Rahane were satisfied to rotate the strike. Australia burned a review for a caught-behind dismissal off Boland in a desperate attempt to bring Kohli out.

However, a ball later, Boland coaxed Kohli to chase a full and wide delivery that he couldn’t resist. As dozens of Indian supporters went quiet, Steve Smith at second slip collected Kohli’s thick edge with both hands after diving to his right. After Jadeja missed his first delivery from Boland, the bowler delivered tighter and with late away movement to bait the batsman into defending and take the thick edge behind to wicketkeeper Alex Carey, sending him back for a two-ball duck.

Boland could have caught Bharat if the additional bounce hadn’t taken the shoulder edge of the bat and sent him over the slip cordon for four. After being trapped on the helmet by a bouncer from Cummins, Rahane survived a lbw appeal off Boland as Australia burned another review.

Bharat was harassed by Green before driving him past point for four. Rahane had impeccable timing with two consecutive drives beyond mid-off against Starc, followed by a punch past the backward point off Lyon.

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