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India vs Australia, WTC 2023 Final Day 5 Highlights: Australia beats India by 209 runs to win World Test Championship title

India’s quest for an elusive ICC title was prolonged as they suffered a humbling defeat at the hands of Pat Cummins and his Australian teammates, losing by 209 runs in the World Test Championship (WTC) final at The Oval on Sunday. Needing a mammoth 444 runs to win in the second innings, India’s hopes were shattered as they were bundled out for 234, with Australia wrapping up the contest in the opening session of the final day’s play.

Australia dictated the proceedings right from Day 1, with Travis Head and Steve Smith both scoring centuries to propel their team to a commanding total of 469 in the first innings. India’s top-order failed to deliver, but a gritty 89 by Ajinkya Rahane, supported by crucial contributions from Shardul Thakur and Ravindra Jadeja, helped them avoid the follow-on. In the second innings, India showed signs of a comeback, but a 93-run partnership between Alex Carey and Mitchell Starc propelled Australia to a declaration at 270/8.

Chasing the daunting target of 444, India reached 164/3 at the close of play on Day 4. However, Scott Boland provided Australia with the perfect start on the final day by dismissing Virat Kohli and Ravindra Jadeja in the same over. Kohli was caught at slips by Steve Smith for 49, while Jadeja was caught behind for a duck. Rahane played some shots before being removed by Mitchell Starc for 46. Shardul Thakur, who scored a half-century in the first innings, failed to open his account this time. The wickets continued to tumble, and it was Nathan Lyon who delivered the final blow to seal the match for Australia.

India’s defeat extended their long wait for an ICC title, and it was a disappointing moment for captain Rohit Sharma. In the post-match press conference, Sharma expressed his disappointment and proposed a best-of-three final in the next WTC cycle to determine the World Test Champion. He also hinted at the possibility of including new players for the upcoming WTC cycle between 2023-25. “June is not the only month to play the WTC final. It could be played anywhere in the world, not just in England,” he added.

Sharma revealed that despite the daunting target of 444 runs, the Indian team remained hopeful of a successful chase, even 280 runs on the final day. “We instructed all players to play freely and put pressure on the opposition. In the second innings, we decided to play fearless cricket and scored 60 runs in just 10 overs. We had hopes of chasing down the 444 runs, but unfortunately, we played some loose shots,” he said.

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