Smith-Head double-hundred stand floors listless India

With 157 runs scored in the final wicketless session of Day 1, Australia pounded India into submission and secured and inched ahead in the 2023 World Test Championship Final with to Steven Smith (95*) and Travis Head (146*). The pair scored more than a hundred runs in the final session to stamp their supremacy over the Indian bowling attack after closing the second session at 170-3, with their partnership just short of a century. India chose to bowl on Day 1 of the World Test Championship final at the Oval, and until the second over after lunch, they took three wickets. This is when the carnage started. 

Little did they realize that while Travis Head and Steven Smith spearheaded a gradual recovery and then went on to play about with the bowling attack when the pitch flattened, they would spend the majority of the following two sessions recovering the ball from the boundary. The weather had significantly improved, and the sun had baked the pitch’s divots, so the Indian bowlers would no longer benefit from the noticeable seam movement and irregular bounce, and the Australian batters would no longer be bothered by it. With the exception of Steven Smith’s edges that missed the cordon, the final session produced 157 runs, and India failed to generate enough opportunities.

India had won the toss earlier in the day and had requested that Australia bat first. Usman Khawaja was dismissed early for a duck, thanks to a peach by Mohammed Siraj, but Marnus Labuschagne and David Warner neutralized the threat and went on the offensive. Warner and Labuschagne, however, left on each side of the lunch break thanks to Mohammed Shami and Shardul Thakur, respectively.

At 76-3, Australia was in trouble when Travis Head and Steven Smith rebuilt the score and launched a counterattack to add pressure on the Indian bowlers, who were unprepared to handle the pure savagery. Head reached 100 off just 106 balls, while Smith required more attrition but had an impenetrable defense and no signs of weakness. As Australia finished the day on 327-3, with the Head-Smith duo adding an unbroken 251 for the fourth wicket, the peach from Mohammed Shami appeared to be a distant memory.

At the end of the day, India attempted to break through with 28 balls with the new ball but was unable. On Day 2, India will try to take advantage of it. Right now, Australia is the team with the game, nay, title, to lose.

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