Rahane and Thakur defy Australia in WTC final

India's Ajinkya Rahane celebrates his half century against Australia in World Test Championship final on 9 JuneReuters

India's Ajinkya Rahane and Shardul Thakur batted through the pain barrier to keep Australia at bay in the World Test Championship final at The Oval on Friday.

India lost a wicket to just the second ball of the third day's play when Srikar Bharat was bowled by Scott Boland without adding to his overnight five.

But that was the only success Australia, who dropped both Rahane and Thakur, enjoyed in the session.

At lunch, India were 260-6, still 209 runs behind Australia's first-innings 469 built on hundreds from Travis Head and Steve Smith.

Rahane was 89 not out and Thakur 36 not out after they were each struck painful blows by Australia's quicks, with their partnership worth 108 runs.

Thakur had made just eight when he edged Australia captain Pat Cummins to gully only for Cameron Green to drop a straightforward chance.

And just before lunch Thakur appeared to be lbw to fast bowler Cummins only for the batsman's review to reveal a no-ball.

Rahane, who would have been lbw for 17 on Thursday but for another Cummins no-ball, hooked the Australia skipper for a sweetly timed six to complete a 92-ball fifty -- a shot greeted by raucous cheers from the massed ranks of India fans at the sun-drenched ground.

Thakur got in on the act when he thumped an overpitched ball from express quick Mitchell Starc through the covers for four.

Rahane was given another reprieve on 72 when he got a thick edge off Cummins. Australia wicketkeeper Alex Carey moved as if to go for the catch and first slip David Warner was unable to cling on with a desperate left-hand grab.

Cummins turned to Nathan Lyon in the hope of a breakthrough but the off-spinner's first ball was driven by Rahane to the cover boundary.

The WTC is the only major men's cricket trophy Australia have yet to win.

India are appearing in their second WTC final after losing to New Zealand in the inaugural 2021 showpiece match in Southampton.