khawaja’s ton guides Australia to comfortable 255/4 on Day 1


Usman Khawaja and Cameron Green put Australia in a commanding position as the visitors dominated Day 1 of the fourth Test match against India in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy here at Narendra Modi Stadium on Thursday.
At stumps, Australia’s score read 255/4, with Khawaja going strong at 104 and Green unbeaten at 49. Australia lost four wickets, but Khawaja, who slammed his 14th Test century, ensured that the visitors were in the driver’s seat at the close of play.
While Khawaja and Green headlined the batting heroics for Australia, Mohammed Shami, who returned to the playing eleven after being rested in the third Test, and Ravindra Jadeja were the pick of the bowlers for the hosts with figures of 2/65 and 1/49, respectively.
While Australia started the post-tea session at 149/2, they lost another wicket, their third of the innings, in the form of stand-in skipper Steve Smith. Stepping up to bowl the 64th over of the day, Jadeja came up with a gem of a delivery to remove a well-set Smith for 38 off 135 deliveries.
Right-hander Peter Handscomb, who has made some key contributions with the willow in the ongoing series for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, arrived at the crease next. However, his promising innings of 17 off 27 balls was cut short by Shami. The pair of Khawaja and Green then set about putting the hosts in the driver’s seat, slamming boundaries at regular intervals to guide visitors to a 255/4 at the close of play.
Earlier in the day, the visitors resumed the second session at 75/2, with Khawaja undefeated on 27 and Smith on 2. The pair consolidated their innings and made hay under the sun at the Narendra Modi Stadium as the hosts struggled to pick up wickets.
India’s spin duo of Ravichandran Ashwin and Jadeja, who have been lethal and among the wickets throughout the series, beat the Aussie batters on a number of occasions but didn’t manage to prise out wickets.
The Aussie batters applied themselves to a surface that didn’t have much spin and bounce, unlike the strips in the previous three Tests. However, the Indian bowlers plugged away on a tight line and length, keeping the visitors from running away with the game. India were unable to get a wicket in the entire second session as Australia went to tea at 149-2 with Khawaja (65*) and Smith (38*) at the crease.
In the first session, India bounced back with wickets in the latter half after the Australian openers got the hosts off to a steady start. After the hosts went wicketless in the initial passage of play on the opening day, Ashwin struck first, scalping Travis Head for an enterprising 32.
Shami struck soon after, sending back Marnus Labuschagne. Usman Khawaja (94) and Steven Smith (17) were at the crease for the visitors at lunch.
Brief Score: Australia 255/4 (Usman Khawaja 104*, Cameron Green 49*, Mohammed Shami 2-65)
vs India.