IND VS AUS: Khawaja, Smith take Australia to 149/2 at tea

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IND VS AUS: Khawaja, Smith take Australia to 149/2 at tea

Thursday, 09 March 2023 | PTI | Ahmedabad

IND VS AUS: Khawaja, Smith take Australia to 149/2 at tea

A dogged Usman Khawaja and a defiant skipper Steve Smith engineered Australia's most productive session on the tour, taking their side to 149 for 2 at tea against India on the opening day of the fourth Test, here on Thursday.

Khawaja, who had scored a polished half-century in Delhi, showed admirable determination to remain unbeaten on 65 off 180 balls as he added 88 runs for the unbroken third wicket with Smith (38 batting).

The Australian skipper, who is otherwise, a very busy scorer, showed a different facet to his batsmanship, during the second session where Indian bowlers for the first time found it hard to dislodge the visiting team's batters.

The pitch is slow but very flat as of now and the batters are not finding any difficulty in negotiating the Indian spin troika on the back-foot.

The run-rate of 2.40 would show that run-scoring wasn't very easy, save the first hour when Travis Head (32 off 44 balls) hit Umesh Yadav for a flurry of boundaries.

Khawaja had a simple strategy and that was to punish anything pitched on the leg side. He got bulk of his 10 boundaries in the arc between square leg and deep mid-wicket. He also played a few shots behind the square.

Smith on the other hand was more focussed on playing within the 'V' and tapped around for a lot of singles with occasional boundaries to boot.

The session belonged to Australia after Ravichandran Ashwin (1/32) and Mohammed Shami (1/31) had squared things for hosts in the second hour of the morning session.

There is nothing in the track and Australia, if they apply themselves well, could post their best total of the series.

Head, in fact, must be feeling horrible as he undid all his good work in the first hour by playing an indiscreet shot. He tried to chip Ashwin over mid-on without reaching to the pitch of the delivery.

Ashwin had just altered the length slightly and deceived Head, who offered the easiest of catches to one of the world's best fielders, Ravindra Jadeja.

Head got a reprieve while batting on seven when wicketkeeper KS Bharath dropped a regulation catch off Umesh Yadav's bowling. Umesh, who has always been blamed for his inconsistency, was once again erratic as he gave a lot of boundary balls.

Out of the seven boundaries that Head got, half a dozen came from Umesh's overs.

The end from which Shami bowled, a lot of deliveries kept low and one such ball brought about the downfall of Labuschagne. It was an off-cutter and Labuschagne wanted to play the square cut but dragged it back onto the stumps, much to his dismay.

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