WTC Final, IND vs AUS: From Ashwin's exclusion to Travis Head's century- key talking points from Day 1 at Oval
Australia takes control on day one of highly anticipated WTC Final against India
Rohit Sharma won the toss and chose to opted to field first on a green-looking pitch under overcast conditions. India decided to exclude Ravichandran Ashwin from their team selection and included Shardul Thakur as the fourth seamer and Australia brought in Scott Boland to replace the injured Josh Hazlewood.
The Indian opening bowlers, Mohammad Shami and Mohammed Siraj, started brilliantly, putting pressure on the Australian batsmen right from ball one.
It was Siraj who struck first, dismissing Usman Khawaja for a duck in the fourth over. However, David Warner and Marnus Labuschagne weathered the storm and built a solid partnership until the drinks break in the morning session, after which they began playing more aggressively.
Warner had a few close shaves and Labuschagne survived some lbw shouts but the pair managed to stitch together a 69-run partnership for the second wicket. Just before the lunch break, Shardul Thakur provided a breakthrough for India by dismissing Warner, who scored 43 off 60 balls. In the first over after lunch, Shami bowled a brilliant delivery to dismiss Labuschagne for 26 off 62 balls, leaving Australia at 76/3.
Steven Smith joined Travis Head at the crease, and the two batsmen displayed exceptional Test match batting skills. Head continued his positive and aggressive approach. Smith was at his usual best churning out runs and frustrating the bowlers.
Travis Head reached a significant milestone, scoring his sixth Test century and his first against India, remaining unbeaten at 146 off 156 balls. He continued his impressive record at the venue and neared another century, finishing the day unbeaten at 95 off 227 deliveries. The partnership between Smith and Head reached an impressive 251 runs by the end of the day.
At stumps, Australia had reached a commanding position at 327/3 after 85 overs. The Indian bowlers faced a tough challenge after the 25th over and had to work hard for breakthroughs. With the sun beating down and the pitch becoming more favourable for batting, India may question their team selection going forward in the match.
Session Breakdown of Day 1:
Session 1: Overs: 23 | Runs:73 | Wickets: 2
Session 2: Overs: 28 | Runs: 97 | Wickets: 1
Session 3: Overs: 34 | Runs: 157 | Wickets: 0