Australia 154-3 at tea, day 1 of 4th test v injury-hit India
BRISBANE, Australia (AP) — India’s injury-depleted bowling attack restricted Australia to 154-3 at tea on day one of the series-decider at the Gabba, with rookie spinner Washington Sundar snaring the wicket of Steve Smith before conceding a run in test cricket.
Marnus Labuschagne was unbeaten on 73 at the interval after getting two reprieves and Matthew Wade was on 27 not out.
Australia was in early trouble at 17-2 on Friday after winning the toss and electing to bat, before Labuschagne and Smith combined in a 70-run stand that appeared set to take off until Sundar struck.
Making his debut after spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja were ruled out, Sundar bowled three maiden overs before the lunch break and then returned to start his next spell by having Smith caught at short mid-wicket for 36.
India's understrength lineup could have been had Australia in even deeper trouble, but stand-in captain Ajinkya Rahane put down a routine chance at gully when Labuschagne was on 37 and Australia 93-3.
The Australian No. 3 survived another chance on 48 when Cheteshwar Pujara put down a sharp catch at slip.
Pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah and key spinner 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 and general presence on the field was missed.
Those injuries compounded the absences of experienced bowlers Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav who'd already been injured during the series.
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 Shardul Thakur dismissed Marcus Harris (5), lazily chipping a catch to Sundar at square leg.
India gave debuts to Thangarasu Natarajan and 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.
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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