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Cricket-Rahane helps India hang tough against Australia onslaught

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By Pritha Sarkar

LONDON (Reuters) – India were left battered and bruised as they tried to cope with a vicious Australia bowling onslaught but somehow managed to limit the damage to reach lunch on 260-6 on day three of the World Test Championship (WTC) at The Oval on Friday.

Ajinkya Rahane blocked out the drama engulfing his team mates at the other end of the pitch as he scored an unbeaten 89 while Shardul Thakur, who survived a dropped catch and took painful hits on the arm, contributed 36 not out.

After a dismal showing on day two when India were left hanging on at 151-5 in response to Australia’s first innings total of 469, the morning session got off to a painful start for the world’s top-ranked team.

Fans were still filing into the ground in their thousands when fast bowler Scott Boland produced a vicious delivery to dislodge Srikar Bharat’s stumps with the second ball of the day.

As Bharat departed for five, India trailed the Australians by 317 runs and were left facing a monumental challenge of avoiding the follow-on target with just four wickets in hand.

Three overs later, Thakur felt the full force of the power being generated by the fast bowlers as he was whacked on his right arm by successive deliveries from Australia captain Pat Cummins, prompting him to drop his bat as he winced in pain.

Thakur also received lifelines while on eight, when he was dropped at gully by Cameron Green, and survived an lbw shout on 36 when DRS showed Cummins had bowled a no ball.

While Thakur lived dangerously, Rahane went about rescuing India’s hopes with his mix of delectable shot selection in the unbroken 108-run partnership for the seventh wicket.

He followed up an exquisite four with a belter of a six to bring up his 26th test 50 as he shouldered the burden of a nation desperate to win their first global ICC trophy in 10 years and avoid suffering back-to-back defeats in WTC finals.

(Reporting by Pritha Sarkar, editing by Ken Ferris)

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