By Pritha Sarkar
LONDON (Reuters) – When Australia’s Cameron Green pulled off what to the naked eye looked like a spectacular diving catch to dismiss Indian opener Shubman Gill in the World Test Championship final – a loud chorus of “wows” could be heard around The Oval on Saturday.
Within seconds, however, boos and shouts of “cheat, cheat, cheat” were ringing around the ground after video replays on the giant screens failed to make clear whether the ball had brushed the ground as Green fell to his side to complete the catch.
“At the time, I definitely thought I caught it,” Green, who also pulled off a blinder of a catch at gully during India’s first innings to dismiss Ajinkya Rahane, told reporters.
“In the heat of the moment, I thought it was clean and threw it up and obviously showed no sign of any doubt basically. And then it’s left up to the third umpire and he agreed.”
A livid India captain Rohit Sharma was not convinced but his protests to the umpires fell on deaf ears.
After Gill had trudged back to the pavilion, he tweeted a screen-grab off TV that appeared to show the ball was in contact with the ground and accompanied the image with two magnifying glass emojis.
“It should have been checked better, zoomed in,” Indian pace bowler Mohammed Shami said.
Alex Carey, who as wicketkeeper stood alongside Green when he took the catch, backed his team mate’s version of events.
“I thought he caught it fair and square. It looked good from where I was, and he was really happy with it. The right decision was made,” he said.
The moment that lasted a fraction of a second became the major talking point even though Australia ended day four requiring just seven Indian wickets to complete victory over the world’s top-ranked team.
India, chasing a nigh-on-impossible 444-run victory target, will resume on 164-3 after Australia declared their second innings on 270-8.
While the record books say no team has successfully chased down such a high target in the fourth innings of a test, the Indians still harboured hopes off pulling off a miracle win like they did in Australia’s own Gabba backyard two years ago.
On that occasion, India enjoyed a record-breaking final day chase to win the test by three wickets and the series 2-1, ending Australia’s 32-year undefeated run at the Brisbane ground.
“A hundred percent everyone believes that tomorrow we will win the match. Because we have always fought,” Shami, who took the wickets of Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins on Saturday, said.
“We perform well around the world, not only here. So, we believe and we always come together to win this match.
“It doesn’t matter what happened in … Brisbane, we are now playing here. We have to think about tomorrow and we will win the match.”
(Reporting by Pritha Sarkar, editing by Ed Osmond)