Australia established a sizeable first-innings lead of 173 over India in the World Test Championship final at The Oval on Friday but only after Ajinkya Rahane led a tailend rally.
When Scott Boland knocked over Srikar Bharat’s stumps with the second ball of the day, India were 317 runs behind with just four first-innings wickets standing.
But a combination of dropped catches and costly no-balls, as well as the seventh-wicket duo’s fine strokeplay, meant Australia took just one wicket before lunch.
They eventually dismissed India for 296, with Rahane – the last of his side’s specialist batsmen – making 89 in his first Test in over a year and all-rounder Shardul Thakur 51.
Australia captain Pat Cummins took 3-83 in 20 overs but his figures would have been better but for six no-balls.
India had avoided the follow-on, although it was unlikely Australia would have enforced it ahead of next week’s first Ashes Test at Edgbaston.
Both Rahane and Thakur were struck painful blows by Australia’s quicks, with Thakur dropped twice in single figures.
The worst error came when Thakur, on eight, edged 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.
Rahane was reprieved again 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 for four by Rahane.
But Rahane, recalled after injuries to Shreyas Iyer and KL Rahul, was denied a comeback hundred when he fell for his lunch score of 89 after an edge off Cummins was brilliantly caught one-handed by a diving Green in the gully.
The superb catch, far harder than the one the all-rounder had missed earlier Friday, ended a partnership of 109 in 22 overs.
Thakur’s off-driven four off Cummins, his sixth boundary, saw him to a 108-ball fifty.
But he was caught behind off all-rounder Green shortly before the innings ended.
© Agence France-Presse