A dogged 65 not out by Usman Khawaja and an unbeaten 38 by Steve Smith, helped Australia to reach 149/2 at tea on Day 1 of the fourth Test of Border-Gavaskar Trophy at Narendra Modi Stadium here on Thursday.
The duo applied themselves superbly on a pitch where the scoring has not been easy, but they kept themselves busy. They waited for the bad balls to put away to boundaries, but defended those aimed at wickets.
Khawaja cracked his third fifty of the series as he whipped the ball over the rope consistently. In the contrary, Smith was disciplined in his methods, preferring to grind India on a sultry day.
On the other hand, Indian bowlers, especially the spinners were not getting any help from the track as they extracted in the first three Tests. To get wickets, captain Rohit Sharma rotated his bowlers and also chucked one to Shreyas Iyer just before tea.
Looks like the bowlers will have a tough time as it is not easy pickings for them, while Australian batsmen would hope to send the hosts for leather hunting in the post-tea session.
Earlier, India bounced back in the second half of the morning session by picking up two wickets as Australia reached 75/2 at lunch with Khawaja and Smith, batting on 27 and 2.
Australia dominated the first hour as openers Travis Head and Khawaja stitched the highest opening partnership of the series for them. In the second hour, India just leaked 19 runs, thanks to Ravichandran Ashwin and Mohammad Shami’s bowling.
Head was lucky to have survived as he nearly was caught by Srikar Bharat behind the stumps off pacer Umesh Yadav, but he was scalped by Ashwin soon after the drinks break as the Aussie missed a shot towards mid-on where Ravindra Jadeja took a safe catch moving across to his left. He scored a useful 32 runs to give Australia a fabulous start.
Marnus Labuschagne did not last long either as Shami got his wicket as the No.3 batsman chopped one on to his stumps while trying to punch through the off-side.
Brief Scores: Australia 149/2 (Usman Khawaja 65*, Steve Smith 38*) vs India