Labuschagne Ton Takes Australia to 274/5, Natarajan Gets 2 Wickets
Australia finished Day 1 on 274/5 after winning the toss and opting to bat first at the Gabba in Brisbane on Friday.
Another injury for India! Fast bowler Navdeep Saini pulled up with a groin injury midway through the second session to leave the Indian team in a spot of bother again. While Saini was taken for scans, it was debutant T Natarajan who took matters into his own hands in the final session and helped India claw back into the contest on Day 1 with the wickets of Marnus Labuschagne and Matthew Wade.
Australia, who were looking set for a big first innings total, finished Day 1 on 274/5 after winning the toss and opting to bat first at the Gabba in Brisbane on Friday.
Despite the inexperience in the bowling unit, with two debutants in Natarajan and Washington Sundar, India’s bowlers were on the money from the get go. Mohammed Siraj, playing his second Test match, found the edge of David Warner’s bat off the final delivery of the first over. Rohit Sharma held on in the slips as Australia were reduced to 4/1.
Before Marnus Labuschagne and Marcus Harris, who replaced the injured Will Pucovski, could really get going, Shardul Thakur picked his first Test wicket. Harris looked to turn the inswinger away on the leg-side but found Sundar at square leg, who made no mistake, to leave Australia at 17/2 well within the first hour of the Test.
Best mates Steve Smith and Labuschagne then took control of proceedings and steadied the ship for the hosts. The duo took the Australian score to 65/2 at Lunch.
Smith and Labuschagne continued to build after the break but their partnership was broken by Sundar. With a packed left side field to work with, Sundar invited the uppish shot with a well flighted delivery and Smith obliged, only for Rohit to complete his second catch. A very disappointed Smith departed for 30 with the hosts at 87/3.
Shortly after, Rahane dropped one of Labuschagne at gully of Saini’s bowling as the pacer pulled up injured.
Wade, who came to bat after the fall of Smith's wicket, started off slowly but once he got set, the left-handed batsman stitched a brilliant 113-run partnership with Labuschagne.
Labuschagne completed his half century and then picked up the scoring rate after that as Australia went to Tea with the score at 154/3.
The right hander completed his century soon after the break as he pounced on a length delivery from Siraj. With the partnership looking dangerous, Rahane turned to Natarajan, who made Wade his first Test scalp. A miscued pull made for a comfortable catch for Thakur as Australia lost their fourth with the score reading 200.
A couple of overs later, Natarajan picked the big wicket of Labuschagne (108), who was caught by Rishabh Pant as he failed to connect with the pull shot as well as he would have liked. India with two quick wickets and half the Australian side back in the hut had a chance to make the day theirs.
However, Australian captain Tim Paine and Cameron Green survived a few probing overs from the Indian bowlers but negotiated the final hour with relative ease. The duo upped the rate of scoring a couple of notches once the second new ball was taken by India and remained unbeaten at stumps with the sixth wicket partnership adding 61 runs.
Brief scores: Australia 274/5 at Stumps on Day One (Marnus Labuschagne 108, Matthew Wade 45; T Natarajan 2/63)
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