After early strikes, Labuschagne and Smith keep spinners at bay

After early strikes threatened to end their session on the opening morning of the 2023 Border-Gavaskar Test series, Australia was able to recover thanks to an undefeated 74-run partnership between Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne.

Australia chose to bat, but the fast bowlers of India quickly eliminated their openers. Usman Khawaja was ruled out on review after Mohammad Siraj struck him with his first ball, striking him on the front pad with a full ball. The next wicket was that of David Warner, who misplayed a Mohammed Shami pitch that was nipping in and lost his offstump.

On the much-hyped dry pitch, Australia's challenge appeared to be teetering off at 2/2 without a ball being bowled by a spinner. Although the spinners ultimately gained some turn as well, the low bounce was the most obvious aspect of the first session, and Australia's two finest batsmen were well prepared to handle it.

While Smith was kept silent for a stretch of 26 balls on 6, Labuschagne got his innings off to a fast start, managing a couple of early boundaries. Smith was at his most tense during this time, losing a few games and narrowly edging Axar Patel before being caught by Virat Kohli at slip. He broke out of that slump by chipping Ravindra Jadeja over midwicket for a boundary before the pair went on to become more at ease against spin.

Despite playing mostly from the backfoot and a couple close misses off the inside edge, both batters were able to keep the dangerous straight pitches out. But despite everything, the team kept running against strange boundaries. As Australia came back, Labuschagne managed eight of them in the session to be unbeaten on 47. He even got the better of R Ashwin early on by paddling him away for a boundary.


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