10.35 pm: The 244-run partnership between Head and Smith, and a day that finished with a 157-run session... fair to say, India are well behind the 8-ball. The toss? The team? Plenty to think about for India. Australia have made a big stride ahead. Join us tomorrow.

Day 1 stumps: Australia 327/3 after 85 overs

Travis Head: 146 (156) 

Steven Smith: 95 (227)

Australia first innings, 327/3 after 85 overs: Steve Smith caresses one through extra cover for four and Rohit Sharma puts in a chase in vain. Perhaps a fitting imagery to close the action on Day 1.

30 mins extra almost done. We are heading into the last over of the day.

Australia first innings, 320/3 after 84 overs: Two fours for Head to start that Siraj over, the second potentially the shot of the day. Delightful on drive.

Australia first innings, 311/3 after 83 overs: Mohammed Shami has produced a peach every now and then today. Another ripper to beat Head from around the wicket. And Head scores a four with an innocuous outside edge.

Australia first innings, 301/3 after 81 overs: Maiden over by Shami.

New ball taken on 80.2. Can India strike? Or will the batters go after the bowling for some quick runs.

Shami back into the attack. Not yet taken, the 2nd new ball. Maybe middle of this over.

Australia first innings, 301/3 after 80 overs: Another testing over by Siraj and with that we have the 2nd new ball available.

. Jadeja’s figures meanwhile, offer another point of view perhaps to the Ashwin debate? Maybe that pitch is just that good that everyone was going to get hit? Perhaps the decision to bowl first is the bigger fallacy that India made at the toss?

Australia first innings, 299/3 after 79 overs: Last over coming up before India can take the new ball to breathe some life into this bowling effort. Smith realising not much more of spin left, dances down against Jadeja and hits another four

Australia first innings, 289/3 after 76 overs: Head continues on his merry way, a couple of boundaries in Shardul’s over. India look like they are going through the motions till the 2nd new ball is available.

Australia first innings, 276/3 after 73 overs: Superb partnership, now up to 200 runs.

Australia first innings, 271/3 after 72 overs: Shardul Thakur needed some attention on his body between overs. Nasser wonders on air how the Indian team will be feeling here physically after the IPL exertions.

Australia first innings, 263/3 after 69 overs: Sublime from Smith off Jadeja. A lofted off drive followed by a gorgeous cover drive.

Australia first innings, 254/3 after 68 overs: Expensive over from Shardul, he has now conceded 59 off 13.

Jadeja into the attack now.

Australia first innings, 247/3 after 67 overs: Still 23 overs to go in the day, geez.

Time for drinks, so here’s a look at some reactions to Head’s knock.

A special day for Head:

First century in WTC Final’s short history.

First Test century outside Australia. 

 First Test century against India.

CENTURY FOR TRAVIS HEAD: A 106-ball 100 for the left-hander. Gets a nasty bouncer at the start of the over that he evades, but manages to loft one over square leg for his landmark. A special moment for him, the dressing room applauds. First Test ton for Head against India too.

Australia first innings, 232/3 after 64 overs: Siraj has made some things happen in this spell. Another nasty bouncer to Head but the edge falls in no-man’s land. A leg slip would have been in play.

Australia first innings, 230/3 after 63 overs: Shami continues to test Head now and then with a wide-ish bouncer.

Australia first innings, 226/3 after 62 overs: That’s 441 runs and counting in 6 innings at The Oval for Smith.

Steve Smith at The Oval in Tests

Runs Dismissal Inns Opposition Start Date
138* not out 1 v England 21 Aug 2013
7 caught 3 v England 21 Aug 2013
143 bowled 1 v England 20 Aug 2015
80 lbw 2 v England 12 Sep 2019
23 caught 4 v England 12 Sep 2019
50* --- 1 v India 7 Jun 2023
via ESPNCricinfo

Australia first innings, 226/3 after 62 overs: A 144-ball half century for Steve Smith. He is laying the platform down for the Ashes alright.

Australia first innings, 224/3 after 61.3 overs: Travis Head hit on the helmet by Siraj who is back into the attack with a couple of bouncers.

Australia first innings, 212/3 after 59 overs: The runs are flowing now. Two fours for Smith in that Umesh over. He is one short of 50. Head is in the 90s. India in troubled waters.

Australia first innings, 212/3 after 59 overs: a four and six for Head over the slips, and as we mentioned earlier, the runs are starting to flow.

Australia first innings, 199/3 after 58 overs: That was a good shot by Smith off Umesh for four but what was more significant was India’s reactions to it... body language is perhaps overrated but if you had to rate it there, it wasn’t great.

Australia first innings, 192/3 after 57 overs: Couple of half chances in that Shami over. Head slashes at a short onem and it flies over Rahane at gully. Not for the first time today, Smith gets an outside edge that falls (well) short of the slips.

Australia first innings, 185/3 after 55 overs: To India and Umesh’s credit, they are keeping run-scoring down to a minimum here. It’s a long session though, if these two carry on, expect the rate to increase soon.

Australia first innings, 184/3 after 55 overs: Shami still getting the Dukes ball to move. Started with away moving deliveries and then brings one back in. Terrific, but hey Smith is ready. Someone else might have been deceived there.

Shami replaces Jadeja, as we say that.

Australia first innings, 184/3 after 54 overs: The partnership, by the way, is now more than a 100. India persisting with Umesh and Jadeja for now.

Australia first innings, 171/3 after 52 overs: Tidy from Umesh to Smith.

Elsewhere in Indian sport today...

Umesh Yadav will start proceedings after tea.

TEA – Australia first innings, 170/3 after 51 overs: A session that Australia will be delighted with. The Labuschagne wicket seems a long while back as Head and Smith put on 90 runs in that session. Smith looking ominously solid while Head score his runs quickly.

Last over before tea, Jadeja with it.

Australia first innings, 164/3 after 49 overs: Oh dear, the decision to leave Ashwin out looks that tad bit more puzzling after that over. Jadeja gets the ball to turn sharply into Head from over the wicket. The ball already is holding up, that is a sign that will give the Indian team headache.

Australia first innings, 163/3 after 48 overs: Couple of tidy overs here by Umesh. A maiden, the last one. India trying to dry up the runs now as things seem good enough for a long batting effort.

Ricky Ponting on air: Seems to me that India picked a bowling attack for day one of this game only, I don’t think they looked far enough ahead for how this wicket would play later in the game.

Umesh Yadav back into the attack. He needs a spell that would make the decision to drop Ashwin look worthwhile.

Australia first innings, 160/3 after 44 overs: HALF CENTURY FOR HEAD! And off just 60 balls. It’s been an unsurprising knock from the Aussie batter, who has developed a knack for these quick runs.

Australia first innings, 153/3 after 43 overs: Jadeja asking questions but Head is tackling them well so far. He manages to sneak in a four in the last delivery. Four runs off the over.

Australia first innings, 149/3 after 42 overs: After that expensive Shardul over, this is a relatively quieter passage of play as India get things back under control. Still looking for wickets though as Head is looking sublime.

Australia first innings, 144/3 after 39 overs: Spin is introduced as Jadeja comes into the attack. The Smith-Head partnership is over 60 runs now.

Australia first innings, 141/3 after 38 overs: A rather expensive over as Shardul concedes sixteen. Smith pounces with three boundaries. India paying for the lack of discipline in their lengths.

Australia first innings, 125/3 after 37 overs: Another maiden over for Siraj.

Australia first innings, 125/3 after 36 overs: Drinks! One would think India had the momentum after Shami got Labuschagne after lunch but Head’s all-out, attacking approach has swung it back in Australia’s favour.

Australia first innings, 120/3 after 35 overs: Just the three runs off Siraj’s over.

Australia first innings, 117/3 after 34 overs: And again! You have to hand it to Shardul for creating the chances. Smith almost dragged it onto the stumps in the second delivery. He also eagerly appeals but India do not review and it’s a good call. It seems to have gotten the inside edge.

Australia first innings, 116/3 after 33 overs: A maiden over from Siraj. Solid.

Australia first innings, 116/3 after 32 overs: It’s almost like the drama is happening when Shardul is coming on to bowl. A no-ball first, a leading edge after that and an outswinger in the next. Good bowling!

Australia first innings, 113/3 after 31 overs: Head is looking sublime here! He has taken Shami on with such ease with back-to-back fours. Nine runs off the over.

Australia first innings, 104/3 after 30 overs: Just the five runs off Siraj’s over but Head had made his intentions clear in the first delivery itself. A glorious flick over mid-wicket for four.

Australia first innings, 99/3 after 29 overs: Shami bowling a superb line and length to Smith especially, on and around his off-middle, fuller than good length perhaps. Tough to put away.

Australia first innings, 97/3 after 28 overs: Travis Head will try to counter here, you’d imagine. His utility in this batting lineup is often to score quick. And he is on 13 off 10 now, with a four to finish that Siraj over.

Australia first innings, 89/3 after 27 overs: There is a leg slip in place for Smith and Shami is testing out the bouncer. A big appeal for caught behind, but India don’t take it up. A boundary each for Smith and Head in the last couple of overs.

Australia first innings, 80/3 after 25 overs: Travis Head is the new batter in.

WICKET! 24.1: Marnus Labuschagne 26(62) b Mohammad Shami: What a peach! If a batter was hoping to run into a bowler easing in after a break, that wasn’t the case here. This is a fuller ball and it moves late after pitching, seaming in and kissing the off stump. That’s going to get most batters on most days. Australia 76/3

Australia first innings, 76/2 after 24 overs: We are back after lunch and Labuschagne has a task upon his hands. As the well-set batter, he must build a partnership with Smith to keep the runs flowing.

Lunch, Day 1, Australia first innings, 73/2 after 23 overs: An absorbing first session of Test cricket to get started. The tone was set by Siraj and Shami with the former dismissing Khawaja for a duck and the latter exerting the control beautifully. Some pressure was released by Australia as Warner took on Umesh for sixteen runs in an over. Just as he started to look in great touch, Shardul dismissed him for 43. A session well tackled by Australia but India will probably be relieved to pick two wickets.

WICKET! 21.4: David Warner 43(60) ct Srikar Bharat b Shardul Thakur Lord Shardul strikes at the stroke of lunch! Warner had started to look ominious and in typical fashion, the Mumbaikar gets the big fish. The delivery was hardly threatening – short and angling down leg but it does the trick. Australia 71/2

Australia first innings, 60/1 after 18 overs: And India review again but lose it this time! It’s Thakur again but Labuschagne saved by the bounce there.

Australia first innings, 54/1 after 16 overs: India decide to review on Shardul Thakur’s fifth delivery of the over. The bowler was convinced and on ball tracking, the wickets are umpire’s call. Pretty close, #JustLordShardulThings.

Australia first innings, 54/1 after 15 overs: Yeah, Umesh and Shardul are bowling in tandem but nowhere has the control looked as good as Shami and Siraj. Warner has found four boundaries in Umesh’s second over. Sixteen runs off that over as the Labuschagne and Warne bring up a 50-run partnership.

Australia first innings, 29/1 after 12 overs: Drinks! So far, India has only claimed one wicket, but Shami and Siraj have been pretty accurate. Although there isn’t much movement so far, the varying bounce is enough to keep Labushagne and Warner on their toes. Expect India to introduce either Shardul or Umesh at this time.

Australia first innings, 22/1 after 10 overs: A maiden over to mark the end of the first 10. That was superb from Siraj, constantly troubling Labuschagne. The over ends with a huge appeal for LBW, but seems high. The atmosphere is quite incredible, it seems. It has been a fascinating first hour (nearly) of Test cricket.

Australia first innings, 18/1 after 7.1 overs: Ouch! That one rears up from good length, steep bounce at pace from Siraj and it has hit Marnus flush on his glove. Left thumb. That was really a steepler. Break in play.

Australia first innings, 16/1 after 6 overs: The first four of the day, Warner off Siraj. A bit streaky. Siraj testing Warner with the short of good length stuff.

Australia first innings, 8/1 after 5 overs: Labuschagne is the new man in. The sun starting to peek out every now and then. As many have pointed out, if India have gone with four pacers purely because of conditions at the toss, it might be a bit bizarre (could be even otherwise). Every chance that the fourth pacer will be under-utlilised. Could easily have picked the No 1 Test bowler in the world right now.

A good question, this one:

WICKET! 3.4: Usman Khawaja 0(10) ct Srikar Bharat b Mohammed Siraj And Siraj continues the knack of picking up early wickets. This is the angle that Siraj had started off well with and the fuller length along with a wobble seam does the trick. Australia 2/1

Australia first innings, 2/0 after 3 overs: First runs of the morning, punched through midwicket by Warner. But another probing Shami over round the wickets to Warner.

Australia first innings, 0/0 after 2 overs: No exaggerated movement for Siraj, but good angle to Khawaja. No runs yet.

Siraj from the other end, over the wicket to Khawaja.

Australia first innings, 0/0 after 1 over: A maiden over to start with. No surprise to see Shami go round the wicket to Warner right away. One ball that moved back in quite a bit, collected well by a diving Bharat.

Some football reading for you:

Here we go. London is calling, Test cricket time.

Shami will get things going.

2.57 pm: After silence observed to honour the victims of the train accident in Odisha, the national anthems are done... and we are all set. Excitement is in the air... and India will hope, some assistance for the bowlers is in the air too.

Time for the players to walk out for the national anthems, but before that Ross Taylor brings out the ICC Test mace.

Rohit Sharma at the toss had a smile the moment Nasser Hussain asked him about his team combinations. He said, “It is tough to leave Ashwin out. He has been a match-winner for us, it is not a great occasion to leave him out, but you have got to do what is best for the team in the given conditions.”

Playing XIs

Australia XI: David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Travis Head, Cameron Green, Alex Carey (wk), Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins (c), Nathan Lyon, Scott Boland

India XI: Rohit Sharma (c), Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, KS Bharat (wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Shardul Thakur, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj

More team news from India is that Shardul Thakur features as the all-rounder, KS Bharat plays ahead of Ishan Kishan.

Toss news

Huge roar as Rohit Sharma calls it right. India opt to bowl. Conditions, overcast and all. Ravindra Jadeja features ahead of R Ashwin aS India opt for four pace bowlers.

Hello and welcome to our coverage of ICC World Test Championship Final, Day 1.

The World Test Championship final between Australia and India at the Oval starts Wednesday.

This week’s match marks the culmination of the second edition, with New Zealand having defeated India in the inaugural 2021 final at Southampton.

Australia and India are two of cricket’s major on and off-field powers, together with England, and the ‘Big Three’ play the majority of five-match Test series.

India coach Rahul Dravid said: “It’s something you aspire to, to be in the top two teams so you get an opportunity to play this game.”

The former India batsman added the fact New Zealand had won the first final after qualifying via the ICC’s weighted points system, was proof of how teams whose cricket economics mean they are often restricted to two-Test series, could still be competitive at Test level.

“If you play less you still have the opportunity to make it to the final, as New Zealand showed last time,” said Dravid. “Actually playing less gives you an opportunity to protect your resources.”

When India, now cricket’s financial powerhouse, won the 1983 one-day World Cup final, it transformed the format’s status in the sport’s most populous nation and with it the economy of the global game.

It was a similar story in 2007 when Indian officials’ scepticism about T20 cricket evaporated after India’s dramatic victory over arch-rivals Pakistan in the 2007 World Twenty20 final in South Africa.

Dravid, however, was sceptical over whether a victory for India, set to be roared on by thousands of passionate fans at the Oval, the south London headquarters of county side Surrey, would have a similar effect.

“Test cricket faces unique challenges, which are not necessarily going to change as a result of one game,” he said.

Screenshots in the blog courtesy: Disney+Hotstar / ICC

With text inputs from AFP and ICC Business Corporation FZ LLC 2020 via Online Media Zone