STUMPS, DAY 2 – India first innings, 151/5 after 38 overs: “The batters should have stepped up today,” says Sunil Gavaskar on Star Sports and that is about as much you need to say about India’s performance today. There was help for bowlers, but some of the dismissals were avoidable from an Indian point of view. Rohit Sharma and Co well behind the equation here. Will need a miracle to win from here on.

STUMPS, DAY 2 – India first innings, 151/5 after 38 overs: That break in play ensured this Starc over will be the last of the day. And so after two full days play, a total of 160 overs have been bowled (plus a couple lost for innings change). Just the small matter of 18 overs wasted so far.

Over 37.2: Ouch, a nasty hit on Bharat’s elbow in the region behind his arm guard. Break in play.

India first innings, 147/5 after 37 overs: Conversations aplenty around the Indian wicketkeeping position in recent times for this match, but it is Bharat who is in the middle now and what a chance for him to show what he is capable of with the bat.

India first innings, 145/5 after 36 overs: Can Rahane and Bharat take India to stumps without another wicket?

WICKET! 34.3: Ravindra Jadeja 48(51) ct Steven Smith b Nathan Lyon An off-spinner, drifting the ball, beating a well-set LHB caught at slip. A penny for Ashwin’s thoughts as Lyon removes Jadeja. India 142/5

India first innings, 141/4 after 34 overs: A smart outside edge, a lucky outside edge... two fours for Jadeja in Starc’s over and he is nearing a half century.

India first innings, 125/4 after 32 overs: Time for Nathan Lyon. Many Ashwin fans will have an eye on how he goes here, I imagine.

Half century partnership: The stand reaches 50 off 84 balls with Jadeja scoring 31 off those.

India first innings, 116/4 after 30 overs: Just glorious timing from Rahane as he hits Boland through cover for four. He is starting to look a little more comfortable now.

India first innings, 111/4 after 28 overs: Jadeja with a six off Boland! That came out of nowhere. On the pads, flicked all the way. (Similar to the shot that he was nearly out off a leading edge early on).

India first innings, 105/4 after 27 overs: Jadeja with another four down the ground, this time off Green. He has looked to score at a fair clip.

Update: Oh looks like the first appeal against Jadeja would have been out too. Cummins has missed out on two wickets.

India first innings, 100/4 after 25 overs: Green into the attack after the drinks break. He has been a nice cushion to have for Australia. A couple of quick overs here and there.

India first innings, 97/4 after 23 overs: Jadeja scores a couple of fours in that Starc over. One driven down the ground, one flicked through square leg. India keeping the scoreboard ticking. Meanwhile, there is a concern around Rahane’s finger. He got hit on the thumb in that Cummins over, is he feeling the effects of it now? Looks like it.

That really was a snorter from Starc.

India first innings, 88/4 after 22 overs: Cummins has bowled a few no balls already today and that comes back to haunt him! Rahane is given out, looked plumb enough on first viewing. Rahane reviews but not needed, The Aussie skipper has overstepped. Rahane survives. Gorgeous four earlier in the over.

This tweet might be intended as a joke but we, as part of a news desk, feel the pain of this.

India first innings, 79/4 after 20 overs: Cummins with a huge appeal against Jadeja, not given out.

A ripper to Kohli | AFP

India first innings, 72/4 after 19 overs: Jadeja nearly with an early dismissal. A leading edge goes over gully for him luckily.

WICKET! 18.2: Virat Kohli 14(31) ct Steven Smith b Mitchell Starc Oh dear. What a ball that is! It’s not been the best of starts to the innings for Starc but he comes up with a snorter there. That’s a length ball that has gone up nearly to Kohli’s grill! Edged to Smith at slip. Yeah, good luck playing that. India 71/4

India first innings, 67/3 after 17 overs: A glorious drive over mid-off for four by Kohli against Starc in that over.

India first innings, 61/3 after 16 overs: The pressure is on Rahane and Kohli now. They are well acquainted with these conditions and this bowling attack but it appears to be a herculean task still.

WICKET! 13.5: Cheteshwar Pujara 14(25) b Cameron Green Oh dear. Pujara will want a do-over there. That was too full to leave on length, and the ball moves back in enough. Timber! India 50/3

India first innings, 49/2 after 12 overs: Boland and Green bowling in tandem now. A four for Pujara in Green’s first over.

India first innings, 42/2 after 10 overs: A rare gift from Boland on the pads, and Pujara takes it up, flicked for four.

Players back on the field. Boland has the ball in his hand again, Pujara and Kohli have a big task facing them, India trail by 432 runs.

TEA DAY 2 – India first innings, 37/2 after 10 overs: India really needed to get to the next session without losing a wicket (or two). And that hasn’t happened. Sensational start for the Aussies here and they will feel right on top of this match after what was perhaps a less-than-ideal batting session for them.

India first innings, 37/2 after 9 overs: Pujara trying to do his thing here. Watchful at the start. The delivery to dismiss Gill looks better and better on replays. The previous balls in that same area were dealt with by Gill. But the wicket-taking one was just wider than that cluster but came back in sharply enough. Boom.

India first innings, 35/2 after 8 overs: Uff, on another day, that attempted leave from Kohli would have crashed into the stumps off the inside edge. That’s luck right there. Goes for four.

WICKET! 6.4: Shubman Gill 13(15) b Scott Boland And the move to bring in Boland early works. Good length ball, moves back in a little bit and Gill’s decision to leave the ball is a wrong one. Bowled. India 30/2

WICKET! 5.6: Rohit Sharma 15(26) lbw Pat Cummins The captain gets the captain. Scrambled seam from Cummins, it moves in at pace and Rohit is very late on the shot. No review also, that looked rather plumb. India 30/1

India first innings, 30/0 after 5.5 overs: Wondered if maybe the Boland over was for a change of ends for Starc but no, Cummins is carrying on. Tries to bounce Gill out, but the Indian opener pulls one over mid-on for four.

India first innings, 23/0 after 5 overs: Probing over from Boland to Rohit, short of length in the channel just outside off.

Early change for Australia. Interesting. Boland comes in. Perhaps the lack of swing for Starc?

India first innings, 23/0 after 4 overs: Maiden over from Cummins, just a leg bye for Rohit.

India first innings, 22/0 after 3 overs: Another pull shot from Rohit that falls short of the fielder in the deep. Rohit manages to square guide one for four off Starc in that over.

India first innings, 13/0 after 2 overs: Oh, what a shot. What a shot. Absolutely glorious cover drive by Gill for four off Cummins. Comes after a half-hearted pull shot by Rohit... he must be watchful with that shot surely?

India first innings, 5/0 after 1 overs: Couple of short-balls from Starc to Rohit to start, the second one put away for four off his hips. Starc goes full after that.

India 0/0: Starc with the new ball in hand. Here we go. And a bouncer first up!

Rohit Sharma and the red-hot (white-hot?) Shubman Gill in the middle. A massive phase in this match. Early breakthroughs and Australia’s chances will zoom up.

Innings break: The day started with a couple of ominous boundaries for Steve Smith that took him to century but India did well alright. This is not the worst of things for Australia too, to be bowled out and spared the question over declaration. The pitch has often posed a threat to the batters, and if India lose a couple of early wickets, then Cummins and Co will be raring to run through them.

WICKET! 121.3: Pat Cummins 9(34) ct Ajinkya Rahane b Mohammed Siraj And the innings ends for Australia. Siraj started off with the first wicket and ends with the last wicket. Four for him. Change of pace, Cummins finds Rahane at cover. Australia 469 all out

Siraj will continue. Cummins will try and go for some big shots here.

WICKET! 119.5: Nathan Lyon 9(25) b Mohammed Siraj A bouncer followed by a fuller ball and Lyon is bowled. Good 1-2 from Siraj, who has now reached 50 Test wickets. Australia 468/9

Australia first innings, 463/8 after 119 overs: Maiden over by Jadeja. Time for Siraj again now.

Australia first innings, 463/8 after 118 overs: Oh what a shot! Gorgeous punch through extra cover by Lyon off Umesh for four.

STAT ALERT: It ever was thus.

Australia first innings, 453/8 after 115 overs: A six and out for Carey, India needed that. A good review by KS Bharat and Rohit.

WICKET! 114.4: Alex Carey 48(69) lbw Ravindra Jadeja Are we back in India? Carey loves a good sweep either side off spinners but Jadeja is a hard spinner to sweep. The Aussie keeper is out playing the reverse sweep. Australia 453/8

Perhaps time for spin. Indeed, Jadeja into the attack.

Australia first innings, 446/7 after 114 overs: Umesh continues and finishes that over with a jaffa to Carey. Every now and then the pitch is offering this to the bowlers.

Australia first innings, 443/7 after 113 overs: Three fours for Carey in Shami’s over. Just after a period where it seemed India had pulled things back, things are once again going Aussies way.

Australia first innings, 431/7 after 112 overs: The broadcasters showing the Adelaide 2003 scorecard, perhaps to give some hope for Indian fans.

Australia first innings, 430/7 after 111 overs: Invaluable runs scored and time being taken up by Carey and Cummins here. The pitch is already showing signs of wear and tear. Four for Carey through midwicket.

Australia first innings, 422/7 after 110 overs: Invariable bounce on display again and that will worry the Indians.

Umesh Yadav to start off after lunch.

A few good illustrations on the same:

5:10 pm: A persistent discussion on air was how Travis Head wasn’t targeted by the Indian bowlers for his weakness against short-ball. Only in the latter half of his innings did the Indian bowlers pepper him with that length consistently.

Day 2, Lunch, Australia first innings, 422/7 after 109 overs: It’s time for lunch at The Oval. It’s been a good session for India, having picked up four wickets when Head and Smith were looking solid to get some more. The pitch still looks good for batting but Siraj, Shami and Shardul have all picked up two wickets apiece. They would now be hoping to wrap up the tail quickly.

Here’s the context for this, from the 2005 Ashes.


Some nice banter on air:

Australia first innings, 410/7 after 107 overs: In comparison to how the game has gone so far, this is a quieter passage of play. But India need to ensure that they do not let the tail wag.

WICKET! 103.5: Mitchell Starc 5(20) Run Out Axar Patel (Sub) A direct hit by Axar Patel and Mitchell Starc is way short. India have crawled right back in. Head, Green, Smith and Starc all depart in quick succession. Australia 402/7

Australia first innings, 400/6 after 103 overs: 400 comes up for Australia.

Australia first innings, 388/6 after 100 overs: Two new batters at the crease with Alex Carey and Mitchell Starc. Just one run off Umesh’s over.

WICKET! 98.1: Steven Smith 121(268) b Shardul Thakur, Alexa, play Praise Tha Lord by A$AP Rocky. Lord Shardul sends back the well-set Smith for 121. He pokes at the delivery and it’s a big inside edge that Bharat pouches neatly. Australia 387/6

Umesh to continue after drinks.

Australia first innings, 382/5 after 97 overs: DRINKS. And with some drama before it. Two huge LBW appeals from India, with Shami hitting Carey’s pads. But eventually on both occasions India don’t review.

Australia first innings, 378/5 after 96 overs: Umesh into the attack. Starts off with a tidy over. India going for the really straight silly mid-on to Smith there. Attack the stumps. Carey is the new batter in.

WICKET! 94.2: Cameron Green 6(7) ct Shubman Gill b Mohammad Shami OK, not to be for Green at The Oval as he goes after a full wide-ish ball and gets an edge. Gill with a really sharp catch at second slip. Australia 376/5

Australia first innings, 376/4 after 94 overs: As if Siraj is not frustrated enough this morning, Smith gets a four off an innocuous outside edge and finishes the over with another four, needling one through the fielders on the leg side. Green has come in, he has the ability to go big too.

WICKET! 91.1: Travis Head 163(174) ct Srikar Bharat b Mohammed Siraj And the partnership is finally broken on 285. The short ball ploy works eventually as Head moves too far to his left and guides one to Bharat. Australia 361/4

Australia first innings, 361/3 after 91 overs: Boundary each in that Shami over for Head and Smith. India continue to go short to Head and the batter is not hesitant to go after the bouncers either. Hits and misses but he is still there.

Australia first innings, 351/3 after 90 overs: At what should have been stumps on day one, Australia cross 350. A bouncer from Siraj nearly has Head fending but once again in no man’s land. India remain short this morning.

A 150 for Travis Head: Another ball away from the stumps, short and wide, cut away for four by Head. Another milestone for him. The partnership, by the way, is the highest in Test cricket at this venue as per the broadcasters.

Australia first innings, 338/3 after 87 overs: Shami with a steady start.

Australia first innings, 336/3 after 86 overs: After those poor deliveries, and a poor thought to go after Smith for pulling away late, Siraj finishes the over well with some lovely deliveries.

CENTURY FOR STEVE SMITH: What a start to the day for Aussies. Two full balls on his pads, put away for two fours. Smith couldn’t have asked for an easier start to the day. Poor from Siraj, fabulous innings by Smith, A 9th Test hundred against India.

Siraj to start off. Here we go. A century or 150 soon?

The belligerence of Head played a perfect foil to Smith’s patience. Head said, “I do really enjoy batting with Steve because of how much attention he receives, obviously. One of the best players in the world, one of our best, probably our best player. He’s our best batter and unbelievable in these conditions and he receives so much attention from the opposition in terms of plans and how difficult it is to bowl to.”

Head added that when you bat with him, it feels like you’re in the shadow at the other end, go under the radar, go about your business because he draws the bulk of opposition resources. Head added, “So it felt like that again today, it felt like he wasn’t going to leave anywhere, he wasn’t going to go anywhere. He was at the other end and sort of got in that rhythm and just went about business. A lot of balls that he may play or play out is a lot different to me so I think we complement each other completely differently but in the partnership it works really nicely.”

Day 1 talking points: Ashwin’s exclusion to Head’s century

Steve Smith at The Oval in Tests

uns 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
95* --- 1 v India 7 Jun 2023
via ESPNCricinfo

02.55 pm: How much will India rue the Ashwin decision or the one to bowl first perhaps?

“It’s always a very difficult decision to drop a champion bowler like that,” bowling coach Paras Mhambrey said in the press conference after the day’s play. “But I thought looking at the conditions in the morning, I thought having the additional seamer would definitely be beneficial. And it also has worked in the past. If you look at the earlier games that we played, the last test match, we went in with four seamers, which really did well for us. The seamers have done well out here for us. You can always look at the hindsight, saying additional spinner would have been different. But looking at the conditions in the morning, I thought additional seamer would definitely be handy.”

Hello and welcome to our coverage of ICC World Test Championship Final, Day 2.

Travis Head’s dashing century was the centrepiece of an Australia fightback against India on the opening day of the World Test Championship final at The Oval on Wednesday.

Australia were in a commanding position on 327-3 at stumps after losing the toss, with Head 146 not out and Steve Smith 95 not out.

Smith brought up the pair’s 250 stand off the last ball of the day when he guided Mohammed Shami through the covers for a sweetly timed four.

The fourth-wicket duo had come together with Australia in trouble at 76-3 after being sent into bat in bowler-friendly conditions.

But as the sun burst through the clouds in south London, the runs started to flow.

“Losing the toss this morning, we’ve done exceptionally well,” Head told Sky Sports.

“I was trying to make sure I was in really good positions today. I got tested through parts of that. 

“I just tried to work through those periods and be adjustable and stay relaxed.”

Head was troubled by left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja but by counter-attacking from the start of his innings – 24 of his first 27 runs came in boundaries – he put the pressure back on the bowlers.

With Smith, who before this match averaged nearly 98 in Tests at The Oval, batting in more conventional fashion it gave the 29-year-old Head freedom to keep playing his shots.

“I always love batting with Steve (Smith),” said Head. “You need to have plans bowling to him because he’s so unique. 

“You say he played second fiddle but I always feel I’m playing second fiddle to him and can go a bit under the radar.”

By the time India tested Head with the short ball, he was well set and a pulled single off Shami took him to a sixth Test hundred in just 106 balls, including 14 fours and a six.

“Travis just goes about his business, sees the ball and hits it,” said Smith, whose fifty came off 144 balls.

“He shifted the momentum. It was a tremendous innings.”

India took the new ball before the close but it made little difference on a day when captain Rohit Sharma would have been looking for many more wickets after winning the toss.

And as Smith and Head repelled India, he might also have wondered about the wisdom of leaving out off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, the world’s top-ranked Test bowler, who could have been a threat against an Australia top five featuring three left-handers.

India had started strongly in what was their second WTC final after losing to New Zealand in the inaugural 2021 showpiece in Southampton.

Mohammed Siraj removed Usman Khawaja for a duck with an excellent wobble-seam delivery and Australia were 2-1, to the raucous delight of an overwhelmingly pro-India crowd of nearly 23,000.

But David Warner, who had managed just one century in his previous 32 Test innings, dug in before the increasingly assured opener struck Umesh Yadav for three fours in successive deliveries.

The 36-year-old left-hander’s promising innings ended on 43 when a gloved pull off medium-pacer Shardul Thakur was well caught down the legside by diving wicketkeeper Srikar Bharat.

Marnus Labuschagne, the world’s top-ranked Test batter, fell early in the second session for his lunch score of 26 when he was bowled between bat and pad by a Shami inswinger.

The WTC is the only major men’s cricket trophy Australia have yet to win.

The fixture also marks the start of a packed schedule of six Tests in eight weeks for Australia, including a five-match Ashes series against England.

— Report by AFP

Screenshots in the blog courtesy: Disney+Hotstar / ICC

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