India experienced another injury scare hovering over their head on the opening day of the fourth and final Test at Gabba, Brisbane – Navdeep Saini has been taken to the hospital for scans after developing a groin strain while he was into his 8th over. Australia ended the first day on 274-5 and India will have quite an uphill task to put brakes on their first innings, especially with a depleted and inexperienced bowling attack.
This is the first time perhaps when India’s resources are stretched badly during an overseas tournament. With the likes of Jasprit Bumrah and Ravichandran Ashwin already sitting out with injuries, Saini’s health update will be crucial as far as the bowling department is concerned.
India, overall, had a mediocre day in the middle, with poor fielding plaguing India’s chances yet again. Ajinkya Rahane’s dropped chance at Gully when Marnus Labuschagne was on 37 certainly hurt India badly as the latter went on to score his fifth Test ton (108). Time Paine, too, got a lifeline after Shardul Thakur dropped one off his own bowling when he was batting on 19.
India started the day well with Md Siraj striking early with the wicket of David Warner (1), and Thakur scalping Marcus Harris (5). But Steve Smith (36) and Labuschagne steered Australia clear of danger by putting up a 70-run partnership. Debutant Washington Sundar picked up his maiden Test wicket when Smith flicked one to Rohit Shrama at short mid-wicket.
T Natarajan, who became the first Indian to make his debut across all three formats - T20I, ODI and Test – in the same series picked up the prized wickets of Mathew Wade (45), his maiden Test scalp, and also of Labuschagne after the duo put up a 113-run 4th wicket stand.
From 87-3 to 274-5, Australia certainly enjoyed an upper hand in most of the sessions and had it not been for the dropped chances early on, India could have been in a commanding position. It’s now to be seen if the visitors can pull the strings back in the first session tomorrow to keep Paine (38) and Chris Green’s (28) developing partnership in check and give themselves a the much-needed momentum to make a comeback in the match.