Scott Boland sparked a dramatic collapse as a dominant Australia hammered India by 209 runs to win the World Test Championship final at The Oval on Sunday.
India, set a record 444 to win, resumed on 164-3. But they slumped to 234 all out before lunch on the fifth day, losing their last five wickets for a mere 22 runs. Boland did the initial damage with two wickets in Sunday’s seventh over, including the prize scalp of Virat Kohli, on his way to figures of 3-46 in 16 overs. Off-spinner Nathan Lyon (4-41) then polished off the tail.
Victory meant Australia had now captured the one major men’s cricket title that had previously eluded them. Boland might not have been in the side but for an injury to Josh Hazlewood. The 34-year-old seamer now looks to have assured himself of a place in Australia’s XI for the first Ashes Test against England at Edgbaston starting on Friday.
“It felt pretty good to get Kohli out,” said Boland, who has now taken 33 wickets in eight Tests at the remarkably low average of 14.57. “I have been playing state cricket for Victoria for 12 years,” he added. “I have done some hard work and it is nice to play international cricket and get some wickets.”
Defeat left India, beaten by New Zealand in the inaugural 2021 WTC final in Southampton, still searching for their first piece of global silverware in a decade. Had India reached a target of 444, it would have surpassed the West Indies’ 418-7 against Australia at St John’s in 2003 as the highest winning fourth-innings chase in Test history.
India were also attempting to top the corresponding Oval record of 263 posted by England in a one-wicket win over Australia way back in 1902. Yet even though the odds were heavily against their side, scores of India fans, the key component in a cumulative crowd in excess of 100,000 across the five days, still streamed into the ground.
Australia, who had lost their last four Test series against India, were in charge from early on in this match after being sent into bat. Both player-of-the-match Travis Head (163) and star batsman Steve Smith (121) made hundreds in a first-innings total of 469.
“The way Travis and Smith put on that partnership put us at ease,” said Australia captain Pat Cummins. The fast bowler added: “Boland was fantastic, he’s now my favourite player, everyone just did their role really well…We’ll savour this and then turn our attention to the Ashes.”
India skipper Rohit Sharma said: “In the second innings, we didn’t apply ourselves with the bat…Playing two (WTC) finals is a good achievement for us but, yeah, we would like to go a mile ahead of that as well.”
Kohli had added just five runs to his overnight score when, on 49, his edged drive off Boland was brilliantly caught by a diving Smith at second slip. Two balls later, new batsman Ravindra Jadeja fell for a duck, caught behind nicking a superb Boland delivery that seamed away.
Rahane had marked his first Test in over a year by top-scoring with patient 89 in India’s first innings. But an otherwise composed 46 on Sunday ended when he edged a booming drive off Mitchell Starc straight to wicketkeeper Alex Carey. Lyon then proved too much for India’s tail and he finished the match when last man Mohammed Siraj was caught off a reverse sweep.