London, June 7 (IANS) Mohammed Siraj and Shardul Thakur picked a wicket each for India in an absorbing first session as Australia reached 73/2 in 23 overs at lunch on day one of World Test Championship (WTC) final at The Oval, here on Wednesday.
For Australia, opener David Warner looked in great touch after surviving a probing first hour, particularly from Mohammed Shami, though he lost Usman Khawaja to Mohammed Siraj for a ten-ball duck.
But Warner fell just before the lunch break to Shardul Thakur, which would have pleased India after losing some control when the all-rounder and Umesh Yadav operated after Shami and Siraj kept things tight. Marnus Labuschagne looked nice to be 26 not out, with Steve Smith to give him company post lunch.
Electing to bowl first, India were right on the money from the word go under overcast conditions. Siraj and Shami used attacking lengths and got enough movement to target Khawaja and Warner. While Warner faced deliveries relentlessly from around the wicket angle, Khawaja was tested with deliveries coming from over the wicket.
Siraj made the first breakthrough in the fourth over when he angled a fuller ball across Khawaja, who pushed it away from his body with no footwork and resulted in wicketkeeper taking the catch behind.
He also got some variable bounce off the pitch, hitting Labuschagne on the thumb of his top hand while almost castling Warner with a delivery which kept low. Though the ball zipped around, Warner managed to slash hard off Siraj and authoritatively pulled Shami for two boundaries.
As sun started to come out and cloud cover moved away, Warner began to garner more runs. He hammered Umesh for a drive through four, before carving the pacer for four off-side boundaries in the 15th over.
From the other end, Labuschagne stood way outside the crease to counter seam movement while punching with a straight bat and steering off Shardul Thakur for two fours. He also survived two lbw appeals off Thakur, one of which cost India a review.
Labuschagne tickled Umesh for four before Warner drilled a drive through extra cover off Thakur. But on the stroke of lunch, Thakur cut Warner’s stay at 43 as the left-hander tried to pull off a short ball, only for the glove edge to be caught by Bharat diving to his right.
Brief Scores: Australia 73/2 in 23 overs (David Warner 43, Marnus Labuschagne 26 not out; Mohammed Siraj 1/16, Shardul Thakur 1/16) against India