Debate continued over a contested catch from Cameron Green as Australia moved towards the final day of the World Test Championship final against India as favourites to claim the title.
England’s Ashes rivals declared midway through the fourth afternoon, leaving India needing a record fourth-innings chase of 444 at the Oval.
India were just about hanging in, reaching the close on 164 for three with a fluent knock of 44 not out from the great Virat Kohli bolstering what surely remained a distant long shot.
Australia’s hunt for 10 wickets started in earnest in the final over before the tea break when an outstanding one-handed catch from Green sent Shubman Gill on his way and ended a lively opening stand with Rohit Sharma.
There was enough uncertainty over the legality of the low chance to require attention from third umpire Richard Kettleborough, but his decision to uphold the wicket for Scott Boland was met with jeers and chants of “cheat” from a 24,000 crowd that swayed emphatically towards India.
The replays looked as though Green had his fingers under the ball but Gill wasted no time entering the fray on social media, posting a less conclusive still image of the catch on Twitter shortly after the close.
The picture was annotated with two magnifying glasses and a ‘face palm’ emoji, ambiguous enough to spare him the interest of the match referee but enough to stoke the ire of Indian supporters.
India seamer Mohammed Shami also suggested an element of dissatisfaction at the swiftness of Kettleborough’s decision, telling the post-match press conference: “We could have taken some time. It’s the World Test Championship final, not a normal match that you let go.
“It should have been checked better, zoomed in, but it’s okay, it’s part of the game. It is all about the umpires. They take a call.”
Green, who is fast establishing himself as one of the best close catchers in the business and took a similarly brilliant one-handed effort to his right on day three, insisted nothing felt untoward as he gathered the chance.
“I definitely thought I caught it. In the heat of the moment I thought it was clean, threw it up and obviously showed no sign of any doubt,” he said.
If India continue to show defiance and take the chase deep, Australia’s pace attack could be in for some unwelcome hard work as the countdown to the first Ashes Test goes on. The Edgbaston opener gets under way on Friday but Green, who will be taking his share of the load as fourth seamer, insists nobody will be holding back with the size of the prize at stake.
“You’ve always got to play what’s in front of you, 100 per cent,” he said.
“We’ve been working so hard for two years to have any doubts about pushing in this game. We’re not going to focus too much on what’s coming ahead and just focus on the next day.”