Brisbane (TIP): Debutant Washington Sundar got the dangerous Steve Smith with a well-planned dismissal but Marnus Labuschagne upped the ante in the second session with an unbeaten 73 that took Australia to 215 for 5 on the opening day of the fourth Test on Friday, January 15.
Australia scored runs at a fair clip in the second session against an inexperienced Indian attack which also lost one of their pacers Navdeep Saini due to a groin strain.
During the session, 89 runs were scored with Labuschagne batting in company of Matthew Wade (27 batting, 57 balls) with an unbroken 67 runs to show for their efforts.
The session witnessed rookie off-spinner Washington Sundar laying a successful leg-trap for Smith (36), who flicked one to Rohit Sharma stationed at short mid-wicket for the catch.
Smith and Labuschagne had added 69 runs for the second wicket in which the former skipper was the aggressive partner. However, after Smith’s departure, Labuschagne stepped up and his 73 off 167 deliveries had seven boundaries. Wade also looked in good touch on a placid batting track having hit five boundaries. Shardul Thakur suffered the most among Indian pacers. Labuschagne was lucky when Ajinkya Rahane dropped a sitter off Saini at gully and immediately after that the bowler complained of groin pain and was taken off the field.
Earlier, a new-look Indian bowling line-up kept it steady, removing openers David Warner and Marcus Harris in the first session. With a cumulative experience of three Test matches and ‘10 balls’ that Shardul Thakur bowled on his debut in 2018, India did well, although Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne were once again looking ominous on a bouncy and batting track. However, Mohammed Siraj and Shardul Thakur did well to get rid of the openers in the first hour of play where honours were shared.
That Australia forced a half-fit Warner (1) to play was evident when he had no apparent footwork while trying to drive an angular delivery from Siraj which was brilliantly snapped by an agile Rohit Sharma diving to his right.
It could be seen that Warner, after his groin injury, is still finding it difficult to stretch his front-foot and get to the pitch of the delivery.
Thakur, whose debut against West Indies ended in a nightmare after bowling only 10 deliveries, achieved success, bowling the 11th one in Test arena.
It was a gentle outswing — an inswing for left-handed Harris (5), who instinctively clipped it straight to debutant Washington Sundar at square leg.
For India, Thangarasu Natarajan’s fairytale story just got better as he became India’s 300th Test cricketer and looked reasonably decent with the new ball without being exceptional as he is with the white ball. He did get some initial swing and kept the openers quiet during that first spell. But the most impactful bowler was Siraj with his pace and length even though a few loose deliveries were there for the taking.