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Day 2 look ahead: More runs await at the Kennington Oval

Last updated on 07 Jun 2023 | 10:13 PM
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Day 2 look ahead: More runs await at the Kennington Oval

In Tests since 2016, only at Old Trafford (295) is the average score higher than The Oval (281) on Day 2

The first day of the all-awaited 2021-23 WTC final went in Australia's favour. India won the toss, and rightly opted to bowl under overcast conditions. The first session was even-steven, with Australia at 73/2. India were ahead with Marnus Labuschange's wicket in the second over after lunch. 

That wicket was the last laugh for India. From there, Travis Head and Steve Smith feasted on some wayward bowling. India's bowling attack was helpless against the counter-attack by Head, and Smith took the age-old method of grinding the bowlers. At the end of the day's play, both batters forged a mammoth unbeaten partnership of 251 and helped Australia finish the day on high. 

Day 2 has more runs at the Oval

Well! If Day 1 saw runs, expect the same on Day 2. In fact, we can anticipate more runs. Before this match, Day 1 had seen 225 runs scored on average at The Oval, the least of the first four days. Batting teams lost nine wickets on average and averaged 26.2 runs per wicket. This match was the polar opposite of what had happened previously. Australia scored at a run-rate of 3.8 on the first day despite the fact that the scoring rate had been 2.9 since 2016. 

There is more bad news for India. In the time mentioned above, batting teams have scored 281 runs on average at a run rate of 3.3 on Day 2 at the venue—the highest average score across all days at The Oval.   

In the first session, bowlers have to toil hard. Batting teams have lost a wicket every 42.8 runs, 77.5 balls apart. The average at The Oval is the best among England venues that have witnessed two or more matches. To summarise, Head has the opportunity for a double, and Smith the chance to post a mammoth score. 

Indian bowlers need to strike quickly

The alarming issues are just not constrained to the venue. A more significant threat involves Indian bowlers in the first session. 

In Tests outside Asia since 2020, apart from Shardul Thakur, none of the Indian bowlers from the current squad have a strike rate of less than 60 in the first session of a day's play. Mohammed Siraj has the most wickets (11) has struck once every 64.4 balls. 

Among all, Mohammed Shami has the worst bowling strike rate and average. He has seven wickets at 50.3 and a strike rate of 93.6. However, in this session, he's induced the highest false shot (24.4%), beaten (7%), and edge (15.4%), but had very little in the wickets section to show for it. 

In any case, Shami has a good record in the second session. He has bagged 16 wickets at an average of 21.8 and a balls/wicket ratio of 44.

Smith is inching toward yet another century

Generally, Smith is one of those batters who does not miss out on scoring big against India. But, in the recent Border-Gavaskar Trophy, he failed to do that. He did not hit a single 50+ score that series. 

In this single innings, he is making up for that big time. He is five runs away from registering his 31st ton in Test and ninth against India. If he manages to hit a ton, Smith will have the joint-most centuries against India in Tests, alongside Joe Root (9). 

It doesn't end there. It will be Smith's 14th ton against India in internationals, the joint-most for any batter, tied with Ricky Ponting.  

For Australia, he will surpass Matthew Hayden's tally of 30 centuries. Only Ricky Ponting (42) and Steve Waugh (32) will be ahead of him. Also, he will be the 12th batter to have 31 centuries. Among those 12, he will be the second-quickest to achieve this feat. Sachin Tendulkar reached his 31st ton in his 164th innings. Smith is batting in his 170th innings. 

If Australia bat the first session without losing a wicket or they are just five down by the end, India will be in deep waters. Crucially, there is no rain expected on Day 2.

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