Twitter Reactions: Charmed Labuschagne keeps Australia ahead against the injury-ravaged India

Twitter Reactions: Charmed Labuschagne keeps Australia ahead against the injury-ravaged India

Australia finished at 274 for 5, with Green and Paine standing unbeaten 28 and 38, respectively.

Marnus Labuschagne
Marnus Labuschagne. (Photo Source: Getty Images)

The last time – 1933 – India played with a bowling attack as inexperienced as the Gabba Test, the World War II was yet to happen; India was more than a decade away from independence, and Adolf Hitler was alive. Thanks to the spate of injuries that the collective experience of India’s bowling lineup was a meager 4. To put things more into perspective, a before-match comparison of Australia versus India bowling lineup read 1046 wickets combined versus 13 wickets, two of which were of Rohit Sharma.

The severity of the piling injuries in the Indian camp was stark enough to let go of their new-found tradition of naming the eleven on the eve of the Test as it was not until a few moments before the toss that an incredibly depleted team was announced, with Washington Sundar and T Natarajan – who became the fastest man to debut in all three formats – making debuts for India.

The depleted India attack sets the tone early 

After losing what seemed an important toss to win, India did wonderfully well to curtail Australia 65 for 2 at Lunch. Spearheading the attack in only his third Test for India, Mohammed Siraj made early inroads as he struck in the opening over to get the prized wicket of David Warner, who edged an angling-away delivery straight to Rohit Sharma at second slip. Only a solitary Test and 10-ball old Shardul Thakur then struck on the very first ball of his spell to end Marcus Harris’ outing as he guided a miscued flick straight to debutant Sundar at square leg.

Reduced to 17 for 2, Marnus Labuschangne and Steve Smith saw off the next hour and a half, biding their time in the middle. India’s ploy of bowling stump to stump in the entire series with a strong leg-side field seemed changed with a change in bowling personnel. While Siraj drifted a few deliveries on the leg side, Shardul Thakur and Natarajan kept bowling in the channel outside the off and slightly wide. However, India went back to the subcontinental template post Lunch and the strategy bore instant results as Steve Smith (36 from 77) flicked a half-volley off Sundar straight to Rohit Sharma, who took an eye-catching sharp low catch at short midwicket.

Sloppy fielding costs India before Natarajan’s double blow

A double whammy struck India as one of the better catchers, Ajinkya Rahane, dropped Marnus Labuschagne in the gully, on 37, off Navdeep Saini, who looked in visible discomfort and left the field apparently due to a groin strain in the middle of the over. Labuschagne would get another life by Pujara, who dropped a sharp chance in the first slip.

With a bowler less to go to, Australia ended up adding 89 for one in the session as Labushagne and Wade upped the scoring rate to a significant extent en route to their 113-run stand for the fourth wicket. Though Labuschangne had luck favoring him, his shot selection was immaculate during his entire knock – a well-deserved hundred (108 from 204).

Later, T Natarajan brought India back into the game with a couple of quick strikes. He got his maiden scalp in Matthew Wade (45 from 87) as he skied a pull to be caught by Thakur at mid-on, who did well to avoid a mid-ground collision with Shaw, who, too, was running to grab the ball. The most crucial breakthrough for India came when Labuschagne misjudged a short ball from T Natarajan and skied a top-edge to Pant, who completed the catch running a bit towards his left.

Green-Paine stand up  

A hard passage of play for India followed, which saw two new men – Chris Green and Tim Paine – stitch a 61-run stand from 127 deliveries. To make matters worse, Thakur failed to grab onto a chance to break the partnership as he dropped a return catch of Green, at 19, off his own bowling. India took the new ball as soon as it was available and even though the bowlers showed discipline with lines, Australia finished Day 1 at 274 for 5, with Green and Paine standing unbeaten 28 and 38, respectively.

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