London, Jun 10 (IANS): Wicketkeeper-batter Alex Carey remained unbeaten on 66 as Australia declared their second innings at 270/8 in 84.3 overs in the World Test Championship final at The Oval, setting India a daunting target of 444.
It means that if India were to win the coveted mace, starting from 45 minutes left in the second session, they need to break the world record of 418 for the most successful fourth innings chase in a Test match on a not-so-easy pitch to bat on.
Carey showed fine composure and middled his shots well to hit eight fours in his unbeaten 105-ball vigil. He found an able ally in Mitchell Starc, who made a nice 41 while sharing a quick 93-run stand for the seventh wicket.
India had a bright start to the day as in the third over of the session, Umesh had Marnus Labuschagne caught at first slip. Umesh got the delivery to come in and swung away late to take the outside edge on Labuschagne's defence to first slip, with the batter adding nothing to his overnight score of 41.
Cameron Green and Carey continued to add more to Australia's big lead, playing slowly while finding a couple of boundaries as the ball got older, with the drives off the pacers being the standout shots. Ravindra Jadeja broke the 43-run partnership as he got the ball to spin in from over the wicket and bounce sharply, hitting Green's gloves and lobbing to hit the stumps.
Carey kept the reverse sweep, which caused his downfall in the first innings, completely away when facing Jadeja and went on to cut twice off Mohammed Siraj through the off-side to take Australia's lead to 350.
Starc took a four off Jadeja through a late cut to swell the lead, followed by Carey driving a half-volley from the left-arm spinner for another boundary. The duo rotated the strike to perfection on a weary pitch as Australia took their lead to 374 by lunch break.
Post lunch, Starc began by driving Jadeja through mid-off for four, followed by feasting on overpitched deliveries from Umesh Yadav to hit back-to-back boundaries. On the other hand, Carey was lucky in getting an outside edge between first and second slips for four, followed by reaching his fifty in 82 balls.
Carey was lucky in getting a four through an outside edge off Jadeja while Starc dispatched Umesh over mid-on for a boundary. After the new ball was taken, there was no respite for India as Carey survived chopping onto his stumps, with the ball going for four.
Starc pulled and sliced Shami for back-to-back fours before being caught at first slip, ending the 93-run stand. Pat Cummins lofted Siraj over mid-on for four before holing out to point off Shami, with the declaration coming immediately from Australia.
Australia 469 and 270/8 decl. in 84.3 overs (Alex Carey 66 not out, Mitchell Starc 41; Ravindra Jadeja 3-58, Mohammed Shami 2-39) lead India 296 by 443 runs