Day Three of the ICC World Test Championship Final saw India keep the match alive going into the a weekend that will decide the destination of the WTC mace.
All results still possible
Australia are certainly favourites, but an excellent display by India on the third day has ensured that all results are still possible at The Oval.
India will need to limit what Australia can add to their total at the start of day four, but have already removed the first innings centurions and will be confident of causing problems when play resumes on Saturday.
It will take a record chase for India to win this game, but they’ve hunted down huge scores against Australia before, and memories of The Gabba from 2021 will give confidence to the Indian batting unit.
The Oval surface has some uneven bounce and will offer a bit of turn in the final couple of days, but the pitch is generally good for batting and the forecast suggests that overhead conditions won’t be the dominant feature of the weekend’s weather in south London.
It could be set up for a special final two days.
Australia's captain shakes off some rust
Australia’s captain Pat Cummins had an up-and-down sort of day, bowling beautifully and finishing with stand-out figures of 3/83, but having more than a few frustrating moments along the way.
Two routine chances were shelled in the morning session as Cameron Green and David Warner missed great opportunities early on.
And Cummins overstepped six times in total in the innings, with two of those denying him dismissals. The last of those no-balls brought the frustration out of the skipper, who booted the ball at the stumps in one display of his disappointment.
But having had a few months out of the game it was little wonder that Cummins had a bit of rust in his game, yet the high points outweighed the frustration for Australia's skipper, and he’ll be keen to get back out there and finish this game off on Saturday.
Welcome back, Ajinkya!
It has been over a year since Ajinkya Rahane played a Test match for India, but the injury to Shreyas Iyer and the lack of Test experience of Suryakumar Yadav created the space for him to come back, and the veteran took advantage.
Building on what was an excellent Indian Premier League campaign with the Chennai Super Kings, Rahane went on the attack in the morning session.
Were it not for Rahane’s efforts, this game could have been either literally or effectively over as a contest, and he may also have just extended his Test career for a little while longer with his excellent knock.
Concerns over a broken hand were unfounded, and the 35-year-old has confirmed that he is fit to bat again in the second innings, much to the relief of Indian supporters everywhere.
Worrying signs for Australia’s openers
Both David Warner and Usman Khawaja came into their tour of England with major concerns over their recent records in English conditions.
And neither will have been encouraged by the nature of their dismissals at The Oval on Friday.
Warner was lured into one that he edged behind to KS Bharat with the gloves, meaning he has now departed for single-figure scores in nine of his last 12 knocks in England.
And Khawaja’s loose drive saw him also depart cheaply, with his average in England dropping to a very disappointing 17.78.