Cricket: Australia dig in after depleted India enjoy bright start

An Indian side decimated by injury have stunned Australia with two early wickets in a dream start to the fourth-test decider in Brisbane, before Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne steadied the ship for the home side.

Australia were 65/2 at lunch on day one, with Smith on 30 and Labuschagne on 19, after home captain Tim Paine won the toss and elected to bat on a bright and steamy morning at the GABBA.

With pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah and spinner Ravichandran Ashwin ruled out, India blooded two debutants in fast bowler T Natarajan and spinner Washington Sundar, among four forced changes from the XI that held on bravely for a draw in Sydney.

Ajinkya Rahane's rookie, four-prong pace battery enjoyed a fine opening hour, removing both openers well before the drinks break.

Two-test paceman Mohammed Siraj had David Warner caught for one with the sixth ball of the morning, a pearl of a delivery that induced an edge to Rohit Sharma, who dived across to his right from second slip to take a brilliant, low catch.

Included for only his second test, first-change seamer Shardul Thakur struck with his first delivery, when recalled opener Marcus Harris senselessly flicked an innocuous ball off his pads straight to Sundar at square leg.

Harris was out for five off 23 deliveries.

On a steamy morning with the ball hooping in the air, Labuschagne and Smith did well to settle Australia, and saw off some spin from Sundar before the break.

Among India's other changes, top-order batsman Mayank Agarwal was recalled to replace Hanuma Vihari, who suffered a hamstring strain in Sydney. All-rounder Ravindra Jadeja was forced out earlier in the week with a broken thumb.

Australia made one change from the Sydney test, with Harris replacing injured opener Will Pucovski.

Australia have not lost a test at the GABBA since 1988 and will be confident of sealing the series 2-1 with superior manpower, and having first shot on the traditionally fast and bouncy pitch.

"Clearly, it's a very good toss to win," Paine says. "I haven't seen a GABBA wicket with a crack down the middle of it, forever, on day one, to be honest. 

"It looks a fair bit harder than what it normally starts, you can see some cracks already underneath."