Head hits fifty as Australia take charge against India in WTC final | THE DAILY TRIBUNE | KINGDOM OF BAHRAIN

Head hits fifty as Australia take charge against India in WTC final

AFP |  London

The Daily Tribune – www.newsofbahrain.com    

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 firstchange 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.

Head, one of three left-handers in Australia’s top five, put the pressure back on an attack without Ravichandran Ashwin after India decided against selecting the off-spinner, ranked number one in Test cricket.

Head, strong off his pads and severe on anything wide of off stump, was troubled by Ravindra Jadeja but then drove the left-arm spinner for four -- one of nine boundaries in a 60-ball fifty. The match, the second WTC final, comes after a twoyear programme of games.

New Zealand defeated India in the inaugural 2021 edition in Southampton.

The fixture also marks the start of a packed schedule of six Tests in eight weeks for Australia, including a five-match Ashes series against England.