Siraj strikes early blow for India in WTC final against Australia

Siraj strikes early blow for India in WTC final against Australia

Mohammad Siraj dismissed Usman Khawaja for a wicket as India took on Australia in the opening stages of the World Test Championship final at The Oval on Wednesday.

At the end of the testing first hour, Australia were 29-1 in 12 overs, Siraj 1-16 in six overs.

David Warner was unbeaten on 17 and Marnus Labuschagne was unbeaten on 11.

India captain Rohit Sharma elected to bowl first under overcast skies and won the toss on a green pitch that promised to aid his four-man pace attack.

Injured pacer Jasprit Bumrah’s absence from the bowling unit did not take long to justify Rohit’s decision.

Mohammed Shami opened with a lively maiden to the under-pressure left-armer Warner, who had managed just one century in his previous 32 Test innings.

But Khazai fell for a run off 10 balls when he delivered a brilliantly rounded seam from Siraj which was edged by wicketkeeper Srikar Bharat.

Australia, much to the delight of the pro-India crowd, were then 2-1 in the fourth over.

As the 89 mph (143 km/h) delivery rose to a good length, Siraj hit Labuchen with a painful blow to the right hand, forcing the world’s leading Test batsman to drop his bat.

The match, the second WTC final, comes after a two-year program of games. New Zealand defeated India in the inaugural edition of 2021 in Southampton.

The WTC is the only major men’s cricket trophy Australia has yet to win.

The match also marks the start of a packed schedule of six Tests in eight weeks for Australia, including a five-match Ashes series against England.

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