Debutant T Natarajan picked the crucial wickets of centurion Marnus Labuschagne and Matthew Wade to keep the visitors in the game after Labuschagne roared back to form and took advantage of the inexperience of the Indian bowling attack to register his fifth Test century on the opening day of the fourth Test at The Gabba on Friday.
At stumps, skipper Tim Paine (38) and Cameron Green (28) stood tall as the score read 274/5. Building on the knock from Labuschagne (108), the duo stitched an unbeaten 61-run stand to help the hosts end the day with the honours.
For an inexperienced Indian attack -- further depleted by the injury to Navdeep Saini -- Natarajan stole the show with the ball and Mohammed Siraj showed why he was trusted to lead the attack after Jasprit Bumrah couldn't get ready for the game despite trying till the eleventh hour.
While India looked to be crawling back into the game in the final session as Natarajan sent back Wade (45) and Labuschagne, Paine and Green played some gutsy shots to ensure that the momentum doesn't shift completely. It wasn't an error-free innings from the centurion as India skipper Rahane dropped him at gully. And the batsman made the visitors pay.
Earlier, Australia won the toss and decided to have a bat. But the Indians came out all guns blazing and Siraj -- playing in his third Test -- struck in the fourth over to hand the visitors an early breakthrough in the form of opener David Warner. The left-handed batsman walked back after scoring just one run as Rohit Sharma took a sharp catch diving in from of first slip.
Labuschagne joined opener Marcus Harris in the middle. Despite lacking experience, the Indian bowlers kept their lengths tight and did not give hosts much room. Shardul Thakur then removed Harris (5) in the ninth over to leave the hosts reeling at 17/2. However, Smith and Labuschagne absorbed the pressure and ensured the visitors didn't make further inroads. After the conclusion of the first session, Australia was 65/2 in 27 overs.
The second session saw Washington Sundar send back Smith against the run of play, but Labuschagne and Wade didn't allow the visitors to grab the opportunity to go for the kill. 27 overs were bowled in the second session in which the hosts scored 89 runs for the loss of one wicket. The final session was shared as India picked the wickets of Labuschagne and Wade while Paine and Green held fort to keep the Australians on top of the Indian bowling.
Brief Scores: Australia 274/5 (Marnus Labuschagne 108, Matthew Wade 45; T Natarajan 2-63) vs India
( With inputs from ANI )
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