4th Test, Brisbane: Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith steady Australia after India's early strikes

Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne steadied Australia at lunch after Mohammed Siraj and Shardul Thakur struck early on the first day of Brisbane Test.

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Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne helped Australia recover after Mohammed Siraj and Shardul Thakur had struck for India in the first session. (Image credit: Twitter)

The Indian cricket team came into the Brisbane Test ravaged by injuries but slightly confident. The Australian cricket team came into the comfort of their Gabba fortress with plenty of questions about their batting. The situation on the opening day of the fourth and final Test between India and Australia in Brisbane was a reflection of the current state of mind on both sides. The Indian bowling attack, having a combined experience of five Tests, struck early blows. Yet again, just like in Sydney, Australia's core of Marnus Labuschagne and Steve Smith steadied the ship and stitched a confident stand as Australia headed into the lunch session at 65/2.

Before the toss, there was plenty of action and history. T Natarajan and Washington Sundar became the 300th and 301st players to play for India in Tests and it represented the first time that India had used 20 players in the squad for one whole tour. Australia won the toss and batted as India confirmed that Ravichandran Ashwin, Jasprit Bumrah, Hanuma Vihari and Ravindra Jadeja were all not playing due to back, abdominal strain, hamstring tear and dislocated thumb respectively. Mayank Agarwal was called back and Shardul Thakur was included in his first Test after two years, having last played against the West Indies in Hyderabad in 2018.

Great start but Smith and Labuschagne steady

Mohammed Siraj opened the bowling and he immediately had success as David Warner, still not fully fit from a groin injury, edged a delivery that held its line to the slip cordon where Rohit Sharma took a great catch diving to his right. Marcus Harris, who had hit a couple of fifties in the previous series against India, looked to get going with some confident strokes. However, with his first ball in Test cricket in Australia from Shardul Thakur, Harris clipped a leg-side ball to Washington Sundar at square leg as the openers were dismissed cheaply.

However, that got Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne together. The duo had stitched magnificent partnerships in the Sydney Test and they were at it again. Steve Smith was timing the ball well and it looked like he had blocked all the distractions in the aftermath of the Sydney Test and focused on what he did best and that was batting and grinding the opposition down. Steve Smith struck some good boundaries off Shardul Thakur while Labuschagne also grew in confidence.

As the lunch break approached, both batsmen were cautious and on the last ball, there was a comical moment as Steve Smith defended the ball and in his hyperactivity, he was already making his way to the changing room before the umpire had even signaled lunch. If Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne hang in, then India's inexperienced pace attack could have a long, grinding day in Brisbane.

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