Head and Smith turn tide for Australia in WTC final against India

June 08, 2023

LONDON: Travis Head scored an impressive half century as Australia reached 170-3 against India at tea on the opening day of the World Test Championship final at the Oval. Australia struggled after losing the toss in bowler-friendly conditions but as the sun burst through the clouds in south London on Wednesday, the runs started to flow. Middle-order batsman Head was 60 not out at the break and Steve Smith unbeaten on 33 -- the pair had added 94 runs after coming together at 76-3 soon after lunch. India captain Rohit Sharma elected to bowl under overcast skies and on a green-tinged pitch that promised to assist a four-man pace attack. It was not long before a bowling unit missing injured fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah justified Rohit´s decision, with Mohammed Siraj removing Usman Khawaja for a 10-ball duck with an excellent wobble-seam delivery. Australia, to the raucous delight of a mostly pro-India crowd, were then 2-1 in the fourth over.


But David Warner, who had managed just one century in his previous 32 Test innings, counter-attacked. The 36-year-old struck first-change Umesh Yadav for three fours in successive balls, with a forcing shot through cover-point followed by an uppercut over the slips and a delicate late cut.

Even better was a cover-driven four off Shardul Thakur that sped across the outfield. Medium-pacer Thakur had his revenge when he dismissed the opener for 43, although credit for the wicket belonged to wicketkeeper Srikar Bharat, who took a fine diving catch down the legside after Warner had gloved an attempted pull shot. Marnus Labuschagne, the world´s top-ranked Test batsman, fell for his lunch score of 26 when bowled between bat and pad by a Mohammed Shami inswinger.

India won the toss:

Australia 1st Innings

Warner c Bharat b Thakur 43

Khawaja c Bharat b Siraj 0

Labuschagne b Shami 26

Smith not out 29

Head not out 60

Extras: (b 1, lb 5, nb 5, w 6) 17

Total: 51 Ov 170/3

Did not bat: Cameron Green, Alex Carey, Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins (c), Nathan Lyon, Scott Boland

Fall of wickets: 1-2, 2-71, 3-76

Bowling: Shami 10-2-30-1, Siraj 11-4-38-1, Yadav 10-4-50-0, Thakur 10-2-32-1, Jadeja 1-0-35-0

India Team: Rohit Sharma (c), Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Srikar Bharat, Ravindra Jadeja, Shardul Thakur, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami,

Mohammed Siraj

Umpires: Gaffaney, Illingworth