London | Ajinkya Rahane and Shardul Thakur kept India in the game with a rear guard 109-run stand but Australia still managed to take a massive 173-run lead on day three of the World Test Championship final here on Friday.
Having reached 260 for six at lunch, India could only 36 runs in the afternoon session to end with 296 all out in 69.4 overs.
Australia, who made 469 in their first innings, were 23 for one in 11 overs at tea.
Mohammed Siraj continued to be India's standout bowler in the game and removed David Warner in the fourth over. He bowled his heart out with his sharp short balls roughing up Marnus Labuschagne on two occasions.
Rahane (89 off 129 balls) could not add to his tally after the break, and having once again delivered in challenging overseas conditions, fell to a stunning one-handed catch by Cameron Green at gully.
Rahane went through with the shot away from his body off Pat Cummins and a diving Green plucked the flying ball out of thin air for a memorable catch.
Thakur (51 off 109) was able to get to his third half century at The Oval with a couple of straight drives off Cummins. India's tail hardly put up a resistance and the team was bowled out midway into the second session.
In the morning, Rahane stood tall amid the ruins in his comeback game as he showed remarkable skill and courage against a hostile Australian pace attack.
India remained behind in the game despite the resilience of Rahane and Thakur's much- needed support. Thakur also survived two nasty blows on his forearm and was dropped twice.
India, who resumed the day at 151 for five in response to Australia's 469, managed to score 109 runs in the 22 overs bowled in the first session.
The way Scott Boland and Cummins got the ball to kick off length in the first hour, one could sense a wicket off every ball.
Boland ripped through the defense of K S Bharat on the second ball of the day as the Indian wicketkeeper had no answer to a ball that jagged back in sharply from length.
Cummins looked equally threatening from the other end and hit Thakur's forearm on back-to-back balls with extra bounce, forcing the batter to seek the physio's intervention.
Like Thakur, Rahane too had luck going his way as he was dropped by David Warner at first slip when he was on 72.
After getting a few streaky boundaries, Rahane got to his fifty with a spectacular six off Cummins over fine leg. The Australian skipper angled one into his body and Rahane made room to pull it for a maximum.
His best shot of the morning was a cover drive off Green, and it came after a thick edge that flew over the slip cordon, showing that one had to take his chances on this wicket.
The final moments of the session were full of action. Rahane got consecutive fours off Nathon Lyon via a back foot punch and a crisp drive through the cover.
The last over before lunch saw Thakur being adjudged lbw but it ended up being a no ball from Cummins. The Aussie skipper had also overstepped after trapping Rahane in front of the stumps on day two.
Following is the scoreboard at tea on the third day of the World Test Championship Final between India and Australia here on Thursday.
Australia 1st Innings: 469
India 1st Innings:
Rohit Sharma lbw b Cummins 15
Shubman Gill b Boland 13
Cheteshwar Pujara b Green 14
Virat Kohli c Smith b Starc 14
Ajinkya Rahane c Green b Cummins 89
Ravindra Jadeja c Smith b Lyon 48
Srikar Bharat b Boland 5
Shardul Thakur c Carey b Green 51
Umesh Yadav b Cummins 5
Mohammed Shami c Carey b Starc 13
Mohammed Siraj not out 0
Extras: 29 (B-10, LB-10, NB-8, W-1)
Total: (All out in 69.4 overs) 296
Fall of wickets: 1-30, 2-30, 3-50, 4-71, 5-142, 6-152, 7-261, 8-271, 9-294, 10-296 Bowling: Mitchell Starc 13.4-0-71-2, Pat Cummins 20-2-83-3, Scott Boland 20-6-59-2, Cameron Green 12-1-44-2, Nathan Lyon 4-0-19-1.
Australia 2nd Innings:
Usman Khawaja not out 13
David Warner c Bharat b Mohammed Siraj 1
Marnus Labuschagne not out 8
Extras: (W-1) 1
Total: (For 1 wicket in 11 overs) 23
Fall of wickets: 1-2
Bowling: Mohammed Shami 4-1-5-0, Mohammed Siraj 5-2 -14-1, Shardul Thakur 2-0-4-0.