ICC WTC Final, Day 1 Report: Indian bowlers look clueless against Travis Head’s counterattack

Saurabh AnandSaurabh Anand

June 8 2023
Travis Head, Steve Smith, India vs Australia

Indian captain Rohit Sharma won the toss and invited Australia to bat first at The Oval.

A 251 runs partnership from Australia’s middle-order batter for the 4th wicket has put them above India at the end of day one of the World Test Championship final at The Oval. India after a decent start with the ball, looked clueless against Travis Head’s (146*) counterattack along with Steve Smith’s (95*) brilliant anchor in an unbeaten marathon partnership. After winning the toss, Captain Rohit Sharma invited Australia to bat first on an overcast morning in London. India’s pace batteries were brilliant with their lengths in the first session. Mohammed Siraj sent Usman Khawaja back on duck. After this wicket, Australia had a comeback with partnerships from Marnus Labuschagne (26) and David Warner (43). 

Indian Pacers look clueless against Travis Head

As the beauty of test cricket is, at the stroke of Lunch India dismissed David Warner, and then right after the lunch Mohammed Shami rattled Marnus Labuschagne with a superb full-length delivery around the off stump. Along with Travis Head’s aggressive century, Shami dismissing Labuschagne remains the highlight of day one of the WTC Final. Labuschagne’s wicket proved a blessing in disguise and Head was on from the first ball itself. Head made his intentions clear by smashing a boundary to Shami in the same over he picked up Labuschagne. Head kept on fetching the boundaries along with rotating the strike with his partner Steve Smith and built a massive partnership. 

Indian bowlers found it tough and out of the plan to tackle Head’s approach. After the first few overs, India’s pace attack pulled their length back against Head and Smith which allowed them to settle down and look for a mammoth score. Indian bowlers also got a lot of purchases from The Oval wicket but as the sun came out their strategy looked completely out of place. They could not force both of these batters to make any mistake. Shardul Thakur conceded runs with a 4.20 economy rate. Umesh Yadav also had a poor start and remained wicketless with a 3.90 economy rate in 14 overs spell. Travis Head didn’t take much time to smash his first century away from Australia and completed his hundred in 106 balls. 

Did India miss a trick in team selection?

Australia ended day one with 327/3 with an unbeaten 251 partnership from their top 2 middle-order batters, Steve Smith and Travis Head. With a clear weather prediction tomorrow as well, India might miss Ravi Ashwin on Day 2. India went in with 4 pacers and Ravindra Jadeja as the lone spinner. Ashwin’s presence could have created an impact against southpaw Travis Head and also on a wicket that is drying out, he would have got a few positive results. On Day 2, Australia will look to touch the 500 runs mark while India will look to better their length and get a few early wickets. They were taken aback by Head’s approach and they have to be prepared for more of it. 

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