Middle-order batter Travis Head led a superb counterattack with an unbeaten 60 to power Australia to 170/3 in 51 overs at Tea against India on day one of World Test Championship final at The Oval, here on Wednesday.
At Tea, Steve Smith was 33 not out and gave Head company in an unbroken 94-run stand for fourth wicket as 97 runs came off the second session.
Head was also aided in his free-flowing stroke play by Indian bowlers, giving him width and overpitched deliveries on pads for him to hit ten boundaries in his unbeaten 75-ball stay.
India fetched success immediately in the start of the session as Mohammed Shami’s fuller delivery from over the wicket came back in and castled Marnus Labuschagne through the gate on an attempted drive.
But from there, they were kept on bay by Head, who hit four boundaries off the fast bowlers in the first 12 balls he faced, with a glorious flick over mid-wicket off Siraj being the standout. He then took back-to-back fours off Shami — flicking on his fuller ball, before slashing off a back of the length delivery.
On the other end, Smith hanged around despite not looking in his typical fluent self and flicking twice through leg-side. He was hit on the body by Siraj while Thakur beat him with the outswingers as the two fast-bowlers kept a check on run-flow.
That changed in the 38th over when Thakur overstepped twice, conceding a four to Head while Smith hit a superb square drive and flick to pick back-to-back fours in a 16-run over. Ravindra Jadeja beat Head on the outside edge and had the leading edge fall short of cover. But Head brought up his fifty in 60 balls with a well-timed punch past deep point for four.
He then broke a lull of six overs by making use of width from Umesh to crunch through point for four as Australia made the second session theirs’ with immaculate ease.
Earlier, Siraj and Thakur picked a wicket each in an absorbing first session, taking out Usman Khawaja and David Warner respectively.
Brief Scores: Australia 170/3 in 51 overs (Travis Head 60 not out, David Warner 43; Mohammed Shami 1/30, Mohammed Siraj 1/40) against India.