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Cricket-Australia crawl towards posting daunting WTC target for India

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By Pritha Sarkar

LONDON (Reuters) – Australia stuck to their tactic of “crawling” towards setting India a big victory target as they extended their lead to 374 runs at lunch on day four of the World Test Championship (WTC) final on Saturday.

Looking to build on their overnight 296-run lead when they resumed their second innings on 123-4, slow-and-steady was the order of the day as Australia’s batsmen did their best to silence the deafening roars of the Indian fans by ending the session on 201 for six.

Alex Carey was batting on 41 while Mitchell Starc was not out on 11.

India, dismissed for 296 in their first innings, gained the wickets of Marnus Labuschagne and Cameron Green during the morning.

However, those in attendance at The Oval, as well as the millions watching on television, will be aware that the world’s top-ranked team are facing a daunting task in the fourth innings if they are to win their first global ICC trophy in 10 years.

Indian fans started dancing down the aisles when Labuschagne stood at the crease in disbelief after being caught at first slip in just the third over of the day.

After suffering a couple of painful body blows, Labuschagne appeared bamboozled by fast bowler Umesh Yadav’s delivery as he nicked it straight into the palms of Cheteshwar Pujara.

He took 126 balls to score 41 and his exit with the Australians on 124-5 sparked chants of “India jeetega, jeetega” (“India will win”) around the ground.

Green and Alex Carey blocked out the hullabaloo as they cautiously built up Australia’s lead to 340 runs when India finally made another breakthrough.

Facing spinner Ravindra Jadeja’s delivery, Green failed to play a shot and the ball spun sharply on to his pad and glove before knocking off the bails to the astonishment of the batsman who departed after scoring 25 from 95 balls.

(Reporting by Pritha Sarkar, editing by Clare Fallon)

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