Khawaja century powers Australia on benign day one pitch

Khawaja century powers Australia on benign day one pitch

Australia enjoyed the perfect start to the fourth and final Test of the series against India as the visitors piled on the runs on a flat day one surface in Ahmedabad. Usman Khawaja extended his fine form throughout the series to bring up the first century for Australia on the tour, powering Steve Smith’s side to a dominant position of 255 for four at stumps.

On a rare great day for batting in the Border Gavaskar series, Steve Smith won the all-important toss and wasted no time in putting India into bowl in testing conditions at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad. The Men in Blue recalled Mohammed Shami to the line-up in place of the rested Mohammed Siraj, but the veteran pacer couldn’t find his radar in his opening spell with the new ball.

Shami began with a huge wide and couldn’t nail down the perfect line and length consistently to test the Australian openers. His new-ball partner, Umesh Yadav, did find the edge of Travis Head on seven, but the left-hander was put down by KS Bharat behind the stumps. Head and Khawaja cashed in on India’s sloppiness and put on Australia’s highest opening partnership of the series, seeing out the opening hour of play without much discomfort.

The hosts eventually found the breakthrough after the drinks break, with Head picking out mid-on against Ravichandran Ashwin. India kept things tight in the second hour of the day, drying up the runs for the hosts. That pressure led to another wicket as Marnus Labuschagne chopped onto his stumps against Mohammed Shami for three, taking Australia to 75 for two at Lunch.

India remained disciplined after the break, but couldn’t find any breakthroughs in the second session on a benign surface offering little to the bowlers. Usman Khawaja ground the hosts out with his proactive footwork and clever shot selection, while Steve Smith played second fiddle for the majority of the partnership.

Smith struggled to up his strike rate throughout the partnership with Khawaja, and Ravindra Jadeja broke the stand after Tea, with the skipper inside-edging one onto his stumps for 38. The hosts also removed Peter Handscomb to claw themselves back into the contest, but the introduction of the second new ball and some aggressive intent from Cameron Green pegged India back.

Khawaja got to his 14th Test ton with a flick through the leg-side off the final over of the day, while Green finished with 49 from just 64 balls to put Australia on top heading into day two.