Sport Cricket Labuschagne out, India on top at MCG

Labuschagne out, India on top at MCG

Mohammed Siraj of India celebrates claiming the wicket of Marnus Labuschagne. Photo: Getty
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India are on top in the Boxing Day Test after claiming star batsman Marnus Labuschagne’s wicket just before tea on day one, leaving Australia flailing at 5-136.

Labuschagne was anchoring a mini-Australian fightback at the MCG after India struck three first-session blows, headlined by Steve Smith.

But debutant Mohammed Siraj dismissed Labuschagne for 48 at leg-gully, with fellow first-gamer Shubman Gill taking an excellent diving catch.

The dismissal left young allrounder Cameron Green (6 not out) and captain Tim Paine (0 no) at the crease.

Labuschagne combined with Travis Head (38) for a 86-run fourth-wicket stand, before stand-in India captain Ajinkya Rahane took a catch off quick Jasprit Bumrah’s bowling.

The MCG pitch has been infamously flat in recent years, but India’s bowlers were able to extract early seam and spin from it.

Bumrah (2-24) cleaned up Burns in the fourth over, before Ravi Ashwin (2-25) claimed Matthew Wade and the prized scalp of Smith.

The stage was set for another Smith masterpiece when he entered the crease at 2-35, but the world’s No.1 Test-ranked batsman was quickly sent packing.

Smith was caught at leg-slip off a turning Ashwin delivery without scoring – the 31-year-old’s first Test duck since 2016.

It was not the only nought of the morning, with Burns’ 10-ball stay again putting him under pressure to keep his Test place.

Bumrah had Burns nicking to recalled wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant – with the Queenslander now averaging just 24.2 from his last nine Test innings since making 97 against Pakistan in November 2019.

With star opener David Warner expected to be fit for the next Test, Burns likely needs a big second innings score to save his international career.

Attacking makeshift opener Wade went for one big shot too many and was caught by a diving Ravindra Jadeja off Ashwin’s bowling for 30.

Australia took in an unchanged line-up and Paine opted to bat first after securing a thumping eight-wicket victory in the opening match where India crumbled for a record-low 36.

India made four changes as they aim to level the series at a venue where they comfortably won two years ago in a game where Bumrah starred with nine wickets.

Pant has been sloppy behind the stumps, conceding 10 byes, while Gill, allrounder Jadeja and Siraj were also inclusions.

A crowd of up to 30,000 is at the ground with fans returning to the MCG for the first time since the women’s Twenty20 World Cup final in March.