Australia 65-2 at lunch in 4th test against injury-hit India

BRISBANE, Australia (AP) — India’s patched-up bowling attack took two confidence-boosting early wickets to remove both openers before Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne combined to guide Australia to 65-2 at lunch on day one of the series-deciding cricket test Friday at the Gabba.

Smith and Labuschagne put on 48 for the third wicket and punished any loose deliveries from a bowling unit that has a combined nine test caps.

Smith's unbeaten 30 from 55 balls contained five boundaries, including back-to-back fours through backward point and down the ground in one over from Shardul Thakur. Labuschagne was unbeaten on 19 from 82 deliveries.

Pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah and key spinner Ravichandran Ashwin were among four players ruled out with injuries from the India lineup that forced a draw in third test in Sydney, and their experience on general presence on the field was missed on the field.

In the absence of Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj led the attack in just his third test appearance and produced a breakthrough in the first over when he had David Warner (1) well caught by Rohit Sharma at second slip.

The Australians added a further 13 runs before slipping to 17-2 in the 9th over when Thakur dismissed Marcus Harris (5), lazily chipping a catch to Washington Sundar at square leg.

That brought Smith to the crease and the ex-Australia captain picked up where he left off in Sydney, where he scored 131 and 81 to earn player of the match honors.

Australia won the toss for the fourth straight test and elected to bat, giving Harris an immediate start as a replacement for injured opener Will Pucovski. That was the only change in the Australian lineup.

India gave debuts to Thangarasu Natarajan and Washington Sundar and recalled Mayank Agarwal and Thakur. Natarajan, a net bowler when the India squad arrived in Australia, became the third paceman to make a test debut for India in the last three tests.

He finished the first session with figures of 0-8 from six overs, while Siraj had 1-18 from eight overs and Thakur returned 1-27.

Allrounder Sundar, who bowls right-arm off-breaks and bats left-handed, didn't concede any runs in his first three-over spell.

The series is tied 1-1, with the Border-Gavaskar trophy on the line at the Gabba, where Australia hasn't lost a cricket test since 1988.


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