WTC final: 'Follow-on' is a big humiliation in Test cricket. Can India avoid this today?

India's hopes rest on Ajinkya Rahane who is making a Test comeback after more than a year

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India's KS Bharat (left) and Ajinkya Rahane leave the pitch at the end of the day's play. — AFP
India's KS Bharat (left) and Ajinkya Rahane leave the pitch at the end of the day's play. — AFP

Rituraj Borkakoty

Published: Fri 9 Jun 2023, 10:18 AM

Last updated: Fri 9 Jun 2023, 10:33 AM

Few things in cricket are as humiliating as a 'follow-on' for a top team.

So what is 'follow-on' in Test cricket?

If the team batting second in a five-day Test match falls 200 runs short of the total put up by the rival team in the first innings, then it might be forced to start its second innings immediately.

Now if the Indian team, which ended the second day of the World Test Championship final at 151 for five in reply to Australia's first innings total of 469, fails to make at least 270 runs, then Aussie captain Pat Cummins might ask his counterpart Rohit Sharma to follow-on.

So with just five wickets in hand on a seaming pitch against the formidable Australian attack, India still needs 119 runs to avoid the follow-on.

Would India be able to avoid this today?


Ajinkya Rahane (29 not out), who is making a Test comeback, is the only recognised batsman to have remained unbeaten on the second day when the rest of India's top batsmen had no answer to Australia's brilliance with the ball.

All-rounder Ravindra Jadeja did score 48 yesterday, but he had his fair share of chances before he was dismissed by Nathan Lyon.

Wicketkeeper Srikar Bharat, who is playing only his fifth Test match, was unbeaten alongside Rahane at stumps on Day Two.

With India's tailend starting from number eight Shardul Thakur, Rahane and Bharat would be required to bat for long hours today to build a big partnership for the team to have a chance of avoiding the follow-on.

But the Australians remain confident of taking early wickets today.

"We are in a really good spot so hopefully we can get a few more wickets in the morning," pace bowler Scot Boland told Sky Sports.

"The pitch is going a little bit up and down so it should be harder for the India batters tomorrow (Friday)."

A team following on often loses the match by big margins, sometimes without making the other team bat again, which is what they call an innings defeat in Test cricket.

Now this being the final of the World Test Championship where the top two teams have qualified after a two-year cycle, it would be biggest embarrassment for India if it loses the match without making Australia bat again in the second innings.

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