London: Travis Head showcased an exceptional display of cricket during the opening day of the World Test Championship final between Australia and India. As Australia’s number 5 batsman, Head played with remarkable ease, scoring his sixth Test century in just 106 balls. This remarkable feat also made him the first cricketer to achieve a century in a World Test Championship final.
The first centurion in World Test Championship Final history 🥇
Take a bow, Travis Head 👏
— ICC (@ICC) June 7, 2023
Head’s aggressive 60 off 75 balls during the post-lunch session coupled with Steve Smith’s patient 33, led Australia to a comfortable position of 170 for three at tea on day one. Head’s signature style involved taking the attack to the Indian pacers, particularly after the fall of Marnus Labuschagne, who scored 26 off 62 balls before being dismissed by Mohammed Shami.
Head’s aggressive approach saw him hit boundaries against Shami and Mohammed Siraj, putting pressure back on the Indian team. He displayed quick reflexes in flicking anything directed at his pads and was equally adept at executing cut shots. With a crisp backfoot punch off Shardul Thakur, Head reached his 14th Test fifty. Ravindra Jadeja’s introduction into the attack in the 39th over proved to be a challenge for the Australian batsmen.
Umesh Yadav was brought on towards the end of the session but failed to make a breakthrough. Despite this, Australia managed to score 97 runs from 28 overs in the session.
To begin the match, Mohammed Siraj made a strong impact with his fiery opening spell. Thakur later dismissed David Warner, who had scored 43 off 60 balls, with a well-directed short ball that found the left-handed opener’s rib cage. India chose to bowl in overcast conditions with a grassy pitch, opting to leave out Ravichandran Ashwin and fielding a four-pronged pace attack comprising Shami, Siraj, Yadav, and Thakur.
During the first hour, Siraj proved to be more effective than Shami by skillfully utilizing the surface with a scrambled seam. Usman Khawaja, who had a disappointing start to the tour, was dismissed for a duck as he played away from the body and edged the ball to the wicketkeeper. Warner, however, showed determination and capitalized on scoring opportunities.
Labuschagne faced a challenging time, enduring a blow to his left thumb from a sharp delivery by Siraj. He survived two close lbw decisions after reviews during Thakur’s bowling spell. The session became more favourable for batting as the sun emerged in the second hour.
Australia was aiming to finish the session strongly until Warner fell victim to Thakur’s angled delivery while attempting a pull shot. KS Bharat, the wicketkeeper, justified his selection over Ishan Kishan with a fantastic diving catch.