It’s been literally ages since Pakistan last beat Australia in Australia. Since the 1994-95 Aus vs Pak series, which Pakistan had barely managed to win, it’s been all doom and gloom as far as Pakistan is concerned courtesy comprehensive, all rounded brilliance Aussies have displayed over the years.
Pakistan started off its tour of Australia today in a not-so-ideal fashion at Gabba under lights. Aussie skipper won the toss and chose to bat first on a batting-friendly surface.
Australian skipper, Steven Smith, slammed his 16th Test century to help Australia dictate terms today. He started off his innings very carefully, and his striking rate progressed as the day turned into night and so did his authority. However, he did enjoy his fair share of luck today when was on 37 & 97.
At stumps, Australia were 288 for the loss of 3 wickets which concluded a comprehensive day for the home team and it could get a lot worse for visiting team if Smith (110*) and Handscomb (64*) keep playing the way they did in the last session today.
Interestingly, Pakistan captain Misbah persisted with the same strategy of opening the bowling with Amir & Rahat both times with the new ball on a surface where Wahab Riaz could have been more useful with the new ball. Wahab was brought in as a first-change bowler and he looked a greater threat all day with a cherry that had softened up already. He was finally rewarded for his efforts when dismissed Renshaw; he kept on bowling the right channel outside the off-stump and got one to shape away clipping the outside edge on its way the Wicket-keeper
A lot Aus vs Pak pre-match talk surrounded Pakistan’s pace battery and its potency to rip through any world class batting attack, fair to say they didn’t live up to any of those expectations today. Their display was dismal and rather insipid all throughout the Day 1 play.
Rahat Ali was wayward in his line and length; went in the excess of 4 runs an over. Amir, though he did induce few plays-and-misses, failed to strike decisive blows which were critical in the first half of play.
Just 10 overs before the second new ball was due, Amir’s night looked to have come to an excruciating end when he dug his right knee in Gabba turf leaving expert commentators drawing horrifying parallels. To everyone’s surprise, he returned miraculously in just less than 6 overs of play, raring to go again.
Both second-gamers, Peter Handscomb & Matt Renshaw, showed a great deal of calmness and discipline despite their inexperience. Both newcomers swiftly made their way to fifty—stamping their authority as lights took hold of the night at Gabba.
Yasir Shah bowled 23 consecutive overs before being replaced by Azhar Ali. He failed to find any assistance from the surface and was made to toil hard all day.
However, Pakistan had their chance to dismiss Aussie skipper when he was on 37. Azhar Ali managed to produce a fizzing leg break that took the outside edge of Smith on its way to Sarfraz who couldn’t hang on to a fairly simple regulation catch.
Smith was given another lifeline when no Pakistani soul could hear a faintest of the edge when he was on 97; nobody appealed and Smith confidently stood his ground as if it just missed the bat. Later hotspot and snicko-meter showed a thin spot on the captain’s willow. Few overs later, Steven Smith drove Amir past cover to rub salt into the Pakistani wounds and completed his hard-fought century.
Australia will resume Day 2 looking to build up solid first innings total (at least 400), while Pakistan will look to strike a couple of early blows going into the Day 2.
(photo credit: RaeAllen IMGP7428 via photopin)