As the sun rises on the second day of the World Test Championship Final between India and Australia, the picturesque Oval ground in London promises another delightful day of cricket. The weather conditions are ideal, with light winds and pleasant warmth, a far cry from the cloudy skies that loomed over the pitch on the previous day.
The pitch on Day 1 provided a stern test for both batsmen and bowlers. During the first session, there was noticeable sideways movement and uneven bounce, causing difficulties for the batsmen. The grass cover on the pitch may mislead some, but it is a characteristic feature of Oval pitches. The bare patches on the surface led to uneven bounce, making shot selection a challenge. Underneath the grass, the pitch appears dry, and with the taller Australian bowlers in action, it is expected to deteriorate further as the match progresses.
Looking ahead, cricket experts Nasser Hussain and Kumar Sangakkara predict that the pitch could start offering spin and assist the spinners by the third and fourth days of the match.
Reflecting on the events of Day 1, it was a day dominated by the Australian batsmen, who unleashed an assault on the Indian bowlers. The duo of Steven Smith and Travis Head batted with supreme confidence, building an unbroken partnership of 251 runs by the end of play.
Opting to bowl first, India did manage to make inroads during the second session, claiming three important wickets. However, the partnership between Head and Smith proved to be a game-changer as they launched an extraordinary counterattack. The final session witnessed their absolute authority, with Australia piling up an additional 157 runs without losing a wicket.
The conditions at The Oval played a significant role in Australia’s dominance. The pitch, now exposed to the scorching sun, lost some of its earlier unpredictability, providing less assistance to the Indian bowlers. This allowed Head and Smith to assert their batting prowess, leaving the Indian team struggling to create meaningful opportunities.
Earlier in the day, India’s decision to bowl after winning the toss seemed promising as they struck early with the dismissal of Usman Khawaja for a duck. However, Marnus Labuschagne and David Warner stabilized the innings before falling to Shardul Thakur and Mohammed Shami, respectively.
At stumps on Day 1, Australia had amassed a commanding total of 327-3, primarily due to the brilliance of Head and Smith. India’s attempts to break the partnership in the final overs of the day were in vain, leaving them eager to regroup and make a strong comeback on Day 2.
With Australia firmly in control, India faces a daunting task of overturning the tide and regaining momentum in the match. The absence of Ravichandran Ashwin from the playing XI raised eyebrows, and India’s seam-dominated attack, supported by Ravindra Jadeja, struggled to make significant inroads.