WTC Final | Head, Smith Continue With Run Piling As Aussies Stamp Dominance On Day 1
Head notched his 6th Test century in WTC Final (AP Photo)
The much-awaited World Test Championship (WTC) Final 2023 started without any hiccups on Wednesday at The Oval. Rohit Sharma won the toss for India and asked his counterpart to bat first on a pitch that seemed greener to the naked eye but performed the completely opposite to what it appeared. After pushing Rohit Sharma and company's back to the wall, the Australians ensured the opposite number got nothing from the day's last session.
The third session started with Australia's score reading 170/3, with Travis Head and Steve Smith hanging in the middle. Two hours later, the same duo were seen mulling with the Indian bowlers on Day 1 of the World Test Championship (WTC) Final 2023 at The Oval. In the last session of the day, the southpaw smashed an enterprising century, and Smudge stood tall in his support as Australia ended the day at 327/3.
India's bodyline ploy defused by Aussies
Head getting uncomfortable against Md. Siraj (AP Photo)
The Aussies didn't lose any wickets in the entire 34-over session as Head and Smith took the Mickey against the bowling team when the conditions offered nothing to the bowlers. For India, Umesh Yadav and Ravindra Jadeja started the session before Mohammed Shami replaced the latter. However, nothing went in the favour as the ball got softer and the sun started shining hard.
Later in the session, Mohammed Siraj was brought into his third spell of the day for a short-ball burst, but as luck would have it, the batters survived that. The seamer attacked the batters - especially Head - with shorter delivery directed towards his skull, but again, despite getting hit on the head, the 29-year-old held through it.
Siraj and Shami did produce a couple of edges, and some kissed the glove as well; however, Australia's might remained firm against India's grit.
Head-Smith shared highest-ever partnership in WTC Finals
Head-Smith shared 251 runs for 4th wicket (AP Photo)
The Aussies, like they were throughout the day, got proactive and kept control of the game in their hands. Runs kept flowing, bowling plans kept changing, and the fans in yellow got their smiles wider.
Both the batters rushed towards milestones in the first hour of the third session - Smith nudged Siraj to mid-on to get to his Fifty No. 38 in Tests, and Head miscued a shorter delivery towards deep square to become the first man to notch a hundred in WTC Finals - and in the latter half, they just bagged runs that were on offer with the field opened up.
After Head reached his milestone, Smudge put his foot on the paddle and is on the verge of converting another fifty into the three-figure mark against India. As a result, the Australia duo have notched the highest-ever partnership in WTC Final, surpassing Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor's 96-run partnership that secured the mace for New Zealand two years ago.
With seven wickets, Australia will continue toying with the opponent bowlers on Day 2, putting more pressure on India as they would need to get the opposition bowled out before they build a mammoth total for themselves in the second innings.
Australia: 327/3 (85)
Travis Head 146* (156), Steve Smith 95* (227);
Mohammed Siraj - 1-67 (19), Mohammed Shami - 1-77 (20)