The culmination of a two-year league phase of the World Test Championship began at the Oval on Wednesday (June 7) – the summit clash between India, ranked second, and Australia, ranked first on the points table. India won the toss and elected to bowl first on a green seamer with a topping of cloudy skies.
Mohammed Siraj and Mohammed Shami started off with a probing spell of seam bowling as the batsmen played and missed, before Usman Khawaja nicked off to Siraj with Australia’s total still at two. Losing their highest scorer in the WTC cycle may have been a blow, but Marnus Labuschagne and David Warner gritted it out, playing out the miserly spell from Shami and Siraj. Labuschagne was struck on the gloves twice by Siraj, but continued to bat, eventually cashing in when Shardul Thakur and Umesh Yadav dished out some looseners. David Warner joined the party, playing some exquisite strokes and blazing away at a strike-rate of close to 80.
Labuschagne survived a couple of close LBW calls against Shardul Thakur, the first one clipping leg-stump (umpire’s call) and the second one sailing over leg-stump. He managed to survive both, but at the stroke of lunch, Warner nicked one through to the keeper, trying to guide a pull down to fine leg off Shardul. Steven Smith and Labuschange survived the remaining deliveries before lunch was called.
The session was all about Australia gritting it out and recovering from the early blow, but the wicket of Warner at the stroke of lunch leveled it out to an even session.