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Labuschagne and Smith keep spinners at bay.

Labuschagne and Smith keep spinners at bay.

Labuschagne and Smith keep spinners at bay.

On the first morning of the 2023 Border-Gavaskar Test series, Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne's unbeaten 74-run partnership helped Australia recover from early setbacks that threatened to disrupt their session.

Australia lost their openers quickly to India's fast bowlers despite choosing to bat. When Mohammad Siraj hit Usman Khawaja with a full ball on the front pad, he scored with his first pitch, and the reviewer ruled that Khawaja had been hit LBW. This was followed quickly by David Warner's wicket, when the batter missed a Mohammed Shami delivery that was nipping in and lost his off stump.

On the much-hyped dry surface, Australia's challenge appeared to be slipping away at 2/2 without a spinner bowled ball. In the first session, the most noticeable factor was the low bounce. Even though the spinners eventually got some turn, Australia's two best batters were well-equipped to deal with it.

Smith was silenced for 26 balls on 6 when Labuschagne started his innings at a high tempo and hit a couple of boundaries. Smith was at his sharpest during this time, winning a few matches but also losing to Axar Patel only to be caught by Virat Kohli at slip. He broke out of that rut by chipping Ravindra Jadeja over midwicket for a boundary before the pair got more used to playing against spin.

Despite a few close shaves off the inside edge, both batters were able to keep the dangerous straight ones out while playing primarily off the backfoot. However, in the midst of all of this, the duo was able to maintain their odd boundaries. In the session, Labuschagne made eight of them to stay unbeaten on 47. He even got an early advantage over R Ashwin, who he paddled away from for a boundary, as Australia fought back.

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