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PICS: Australia vs India, 4th Test, Day 1

Source: PTI
Last updated on: January 15, 2021 14:24 IST
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Images from Day 1 of the fourth Test between Australia and India, at the Gabba, on Friday.

India debutant Thangarasu Natarajan is congratulated by Rohit Sharma after dismissing Australia's Marnus Labuschagne

IMAGE: India debutant Thangarasu Natarajan is congratulated by Rohit Sharma after dismissing Australia's Marnus Labuschagne during Day 1 of the fourth Test, at the Gabba, in Brisbane, on Friday. Photograph: Jono Searle/Getty Images

The incredible underdog fairy tale of Thangarasu Natarajan got better on Friday with his twin strikes on debut that headlined a commendable effort by an inexperienced Indian bowling attack, which reduced Australia to 274 for 5 despite a stylish hundred from Marnus Labuschagne, on the opening day of the fourth and final Test of the series, at the Gabba, in Brisbane.

 

The Indian attack, with a collective experience of just three Tests and 10 balls and 11 wickets in its kitty, was pitted against a batting line-up with 59 hundreds.

After 87 overs, Tamil Nadu rookies Natarajan (20-2-63-2) and Washington Sundar (2-4-63-1) could hold their heads high for a lion-hearted effort on a good batting pitch in the absence of the injured Ravichandran Ashwin and Jasprit Bumrah.

Marnus Labuschagne celebrates scoring a century.

IMAGE: Marnus Labuschagne celebrates on getting to hundred. Photograph: Jono Searle/Getty Images

If tall off-spinner Washington set up a nice little trap to get rid of Steve Smith (36 off 77 balls), Natarajan forced centurion Labuschagne (108 off 204 balls) and Matthew Wade (47 off 85 balls) to miscue their pull-shots after a 113-run stand which threatened to put India in a spot.

At stumps, Tim Paine (38) and Cameron Green (28) had added 61 runs for the sixth wicket. The visitors will need a few quick wickets to keep the first innings total within manageable range.

The distance between Palayampatti, a non-descript village in Tamil Nadu's Salem, to Australia's modern city Brisbane is 9035 km on a google map. But add the hardships of a daily wager mother trying to put food on table, being called for suspect action early in his career, not being privileged enough to get a paternity leave (his daughter is already three months old), it's a million miles emotionally that Team India's favourite "Nattu" has traversed.

Getting Labuschagne, who was on a rampage, with a short delivery ensured that Australia did not finish the day with a score close to 350.

Tim Paine bats during Day 1 of the fourth Test.

IMAGE: Tim Paine bats during Day 1 of the fourth Test. Photograph: Jono Searle/Getty Images

For someone who was supposed to be a nets bowler, India's Test Cap No 300 did well enough on the first day despite not exactly being a natural. He also knows that he does not have the express pace to trouble batsmen (his average speed is 130-plus).

He bowled full during his first two spells and made the length shorter when the ball got old and that's how he induced Wade and Labuschagne to go for those pull shots.

Nobody would have blamed a Natarajan or a Shardul or "leader of the attack" Mohammed Siraj (19-8-51-1), all of whom toiled manfully throughout their multiple spells in a battle of unequals.

The inexperience was palpable as Thakur (18-5-67-1) bowled a lot of full pitched deliveries which Labuschagne pounced on in the second and third sessions during an innings that had nine boundaries.

If all the injuries weren't enough, Navdeep Saini (7.5 overs) now seems to be in trouble as he has sustained a groin niggle moments after his skipper Ajinkya Rahane dropped a dolly at gully when Labuschagne was on 37.

Session 1

India pacer Mohammed Siraj celebrates dismissing Australia opener David Warner during Day 1 of the fourth Test, at the Gabba, on Friday.

IMAGE: India pacer Mohammed Siraj celebrates dismissing Australia opener David Warner. Photograph: Jono Searle/Getty Images

A new-look Indian bowling line-up kept it steady to dismiss openers David Warner and Marcus Harris before Australia went to lunch with 65 runs for the loss of two wickets.

With a cumulative experience of three Test matches and '10 balls' that Shardul Thakur bowled on his debut in 2018, India did well, although Steve Smith (30 batting, 55 balls) and Marnus Labuschagne (19 batting, 82 balls) again looked ominous on a bouncy and batting track as they rallied the home side.

Mohammed Siraj (8-4-18-1) and Shardul Thakur (7-3-27-1) did well to get rid of the openers in the first hour of play where honours were shared.

Shardul Thakur celebrates after dismissing Marcus Harris.

IMAGE: Shardul Thakur celebrates after dismissing Marcus Harris. Photograph: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images

That Australia forced a half-fit Warner (1) to play was evident when he had no apparent footwork while trying to drive an angular delivery from Siraj, which was brilliantly snapped by an agile Rohit Sharma, diving to his right.

It could be seen that Warner, after his groin injury, was still finding it difficult to stretch his front-foot and get to the pitch of the delivery.

Thakur, whose debut against the West Indies ended in a nightmare after bowling only 10 deliveries, achieved success, bowling the 11th one in Test arena.

Steve Smith bats during Day 1 of the fourth Test

IMAGE: Steve Smith rallied Australia after the loss of early wickets, combining caution with aggression. Photograph: Jono Searle/Getty Images

It was a gentle outswing -- an inswing for left-handed Harris (5), who instinctively clipped it straight to debutant Washington Sundar at square leg.

However, Smith and Labuschagne, two of Australia's best batsmen, then took control of the proceedings with a 48-run partnership.

Smith, for one, was ready to punish the loose deliveries as he hit as many as five boundaries while Labuschagne did a 'Cheteshwar Pujara', holding one end up.

Marnus Labuschagne

IMAGE: Marnus Labuschagne was watchful as he scored 19 off 82 balls in the morning session. Photograph: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images

For India, Thangarasu Natarajan's (6-1-8-0) fairytale story just got better as he became India's 300th Test cricketer and looked reasonably decent with the new ball without being exceptional as he is with the white ball.

He did get some initial swing and kept the openers quiet during that first spell. But, the most impactful bowler was Siraj with his pace and length even though a few loose deliveries were there for the taking.

Thakur, to be fair, also bowled well within himself.

Session 2:

Washington Sundar celebrates with Rohit Sharma after dismissing Steve Smith during Day 1 of the fourth Test against Australia, at the Gabba, in Brisbane, on Friday.

IMAGE: Washington Sundar celebrates with Rohit Sharma after dismissing Steve Smith. Photograph: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images

Debutant Washington Sundar got the dangerous Steve Smith with a well-planned dismissal, but Marnus Labuschagne upped the ante in the second session with an unbeaten 73 that took Australia to 154 for 3 at tea.

Australia scored runs at a fair clip in the second session against an inexperienced Indian attack, which also lost one of their pacers Navdeep Saini due to a groin strain.

At the end of the session, in which 89 runs were scored, Labuschagne was batting in company of Matthew Wade (27 batting, 57 balls) in an unbroken 67 runs partnership.

Marnus Labuschagne of Australia celebrates scoring fifty runs

IMAGE: Marnus Labuschagne waves to the dressing room after completing a half-century. Photograph: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images

The session witnessed rookie off-spinner Sundar laying a successful leg-trap for Smith (36), who flicked one to Rohit Sharma, stationed at short mid-wicket for the catch.

Smith and Labuschagne had added 69 runs for the second wicket in which the former skipper was the aggressive partner.

Matthew Wade

IMAGE: Matthew Wade displayed good touch while scoring 27 off 57 balls before the tea break. Photograph: Jono Searle/Getty Images

However, after Smith's departure, Labuschagne stepped up the scoring and his 73 off 167 deliveries had seven boundaries.

Wade also looked in good touch on a placid batting track, having hit five boundaries.

Shardul Thakur suffered the most among the Indian pacers.

Labuschagne was lucky when Ajinkya Rahane dropped a sitter off Saini at gully and immediately after that the bowler complained of groin pain and was taken off the field.

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