India pacer Mohammed Siraj breathed fire in his opening spell before seamer Shardul Thakur got rid of a well-set David Warner to reduce Australia to 73 for two at lunch on day one of the World Test Championship final against India.
Having survived challenging conditions in the first hour at The Oval, Warner (43 off 60) and Labuschagne (26 batting off 61) were on course to see off the session until Thakur dismissed the left-handed opener with a short ball targeting his rib cage.
Wicketkeeper KS Bharat took a well-judged catch down the leg-side. India expectedly opted to bowl in overcast conditions and on a pitch with fair amount of grass. They made the tough call to leave out Ravichandran Ashwin from the playing eleven for a four-pronged pace attack including Shami, Siraj, Umesh Yadav and Shardul Thakur. Both Siraj and Shami kept Australia in check in the first hour, sharing six overs six each and conceding only 29 runs.
Siraj breathed fire and got more out of the surface than Shami by bowling with a scrambled seam. Usman Khawaja (0 off 10), who has an ordinary record in England, began the tour on a disappointing note as he got a faint edge off a ball that pitched outside the off stump and seamed way.
There was minimal feet movement and he paid the price for playing away from the body and the nick was taken easily by Bharat behind the stumps.
Warner, who has a point to prove in this game and cement his spot in the playing XI for the upcoming Ashes, battled with grit and took his chances every time he was offered width. He slashed hard for the first boundary of the game.
After an engrossing opening hour, India took the foot off the pedal with Umesh Yadav offering plenty of scoring opportunities to Warner, who collected four boundaries off the pacer in the 15th over.
The going was much tougher for Labuschagne, who copped a nasty blow on his left thumb from a sharp delivery by Siraj. Later in the session, he was able to survive two close DRS lbw calls off Thakur's bowling.
As it often happens in England, the sun came out in the second hour and made batting easier.
Australia were looking to close the session strongly until Warner went for a pull off a delivery angled into him by Thakur who went wide off the crease while coming round the wicket as the batter cramped for room couldn't keep the pull down. Bharat justified his selection over Ishan Kishan with a diving catch.
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