Australia's Marnus Labuschagne hits a century to punish India

Marnus Labuschagne hits a century to punish injury-ravaged India for dropping him TWICE as Australia move into a good position to win decisive fourth Test and settle series dogged by controversy

  • Australia closed the opening day at the Gabba on 274 for five in decisive Test
  • Marnus Labuschagne hit an impressive 108 after India twice dropped him
  • India were without the injured Jasprit Bumrah, Ravi Ashwin and Ravinda Jadeja
  • But rookie bowling attack of only four caps showed they’re up for the challenge
  • Stand of 61 between Cameron Green and Tim Paine made it Australia’s day 
  • Third Test draw was marred by Paine’s sledging and Steve Smith ‘scuffing’ row 

Marnus Labuschagne registered his fifth Test ton for Australia but India’s second-string bowlers featuring two debutants showed they were up for the fight on the opening day of the series decider in Brisbane.

With the injured Jasprit Bumrah, Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja joining the lengthy list of absentees, India’s attack had four Test caps between them as Thangarasu Natarajan and Washington Sundar made their bows.

The pair made crucial interventions but Labuschagne made India pay for dropping him twice with an impressive 108 while a useful unbroken stand of 61 between Cameron Green and Tim Paine took Australia to 274 for five at stumps.

Marnus Labuschagne hit a century on the opening day of the decisive fourth Test in Brisbane

His 108 put Australia in a good position to win the fourth Test against India and the series 2-1

Rohit Sharma congratulates Thangarasu Natarajan after dismissing Labuschagne at the Gabba

It made for an eventful start to the decisive Test with less controversy that the climax to the drawn third Test earlier this week.

Then, Australia captain Tim Paine was widely criticised for calling Indian batsman Ravi Ashwin a ‘d***head’ during a heated sledging exchange and Steve Smith was slammed for ‘scuffing’ up  Rishabh Pant’s guard mark. 

The hosts won the toss for the finale, with the series finely-poised at 1-1 following a climactic draw at Sydney, but were soon in trouble on 17 for two as openers David Warner and Marcus Harris were dismissed in single figures.

Sundar bowled three successive maidens in the morning session before striking after lunch with the first ball of his fourth over as Steve Smith, on 36, clipped to short midwicket to give the off-spinner his maiden Test wicket.

David Warner was dismissed for just one on the first morning of the fourth Test in Brisbane

Warner looks back to see Rohit Sharma taking the catch off the bowling of Mohammed Siraj 

Siraj (second left) is congratulates by his India team-mates after taking the wicket of Warner 

India captain Ajinkya Rahane dropped a dolly at gully to reprieve Labuschagne on 37 in the next over and, to compound matters, that would prove to be Navdeep Saini’s last ball of the day as he succumbed to a groin injury.

As he went for a scan, India gave another life to Labuschagne as Cheteshwar Pujara dropped a difficult chance at first slip when Australia’s number three was on 48. From there Labuschagne cashed in.

Labuschagne went to three figures for the first time in the series shortly before Natarajan swung the pendulum back in India’s favour with two wickets in two overs as Australia slipped to 213 for five.

Washington Sundar is congratulated on taking the prize wicket of Steve Smith for 36

Smith walks off with slumped shoulders after debutant Sundar dismissed him 

Natarajan induced a miscued pull from Matthew Wade on 45, with a catch taken at mid-on, to end a 113-run stand while India’s left-arm seamer then snared Labuschagne, whose top-edge looped to wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant.

Despite Labuschagne’s contribution, Australia seemed like they might sink to a below-par first-innings score but Green and Paine made timely contributions – although the former benefited from another India error in the field.

Shardul Thakur spilled a return catch when Green was on 19 before the all-rounder went to stumps unbeaten on 28, while captain Paine, who was criticised following his conduct at Sydney earlier this week, was a useful foil.

Paine, who said ‘my leadership wasn’t good enough’ as he clashed with Ashwin on a tense final day at the SCG, contributed an encouraging 38 to his unbroken partnership with Green to help Australia’s cause.

Under-fire captain Tim Paine (left) and Cameron Green put on an unbroken 61 until stumps

Paine (left) and Indian batsman Ravi Ashwin (right) got into a heated sledging exchange on the final day of the third Test in Sydney

Paine began the exchange by saying he couldn’t wait to get Ashwin to the Gabba in Brisbane for the decisive fourth Test. Ashwin retorted that he couldn’t wait to get Paine to India


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