Australia’s pace trio of Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood had the hosts an early advantage on Day 1 of the first Test against Pakistan at The Gabba on Thursday, bowling out the visitors for 240.
Left-armer Starc was the wrecker-in-chief for as he claimed 4/52 to break the back of Pakistan’s batting unit. He was ably supported Australia’s bowling spearhead – Cummins who returned 3/60, while Hazlewood picked two wickets. Nathan Lyon added one to his tally.
The visitors enjoyed a solid but slow start as openers Shan Masood and Azhar Ali saw off the first session unscathed with 57 runs on the board. The duo put on a crucial stand of 75 before Cummins ended Masood’s 97-ball stay for 27, with a sharp outswinger that took the leading edge en route to Steve Smith at second slip.
The wicket opened the floodgates for the touring side as skipper Ali (39) was dismissed in the very next over, nicking one at first slip off Hazlewood, on 39. Joining the bandwagon was Starc, replacing Cummins in the attack, who struck on the third ball of his new spell removing Harris Sohail (1).
However, the biggest disappointment of the day came in the form of Babar Azam, who played chased after a wide one from Josh Hazlewood and was caught at second slip by Joe Burn after facing only four deliveries for just one run. A lot was expected from the newly-appointed ODI skipper, but he failed to deliver in the longer format, falling for the fifth time in seven innings to the pacer. Lyon later removed Iftikhar Ahmed (7) as Pakistan slipped from 75/0 to 95/5.
Unfazed by the collapse at the other end, Asad Shafiq played a brilliant knock and continued his good form in whites. The middle-order batsman had register two hundred plus scores in as many practice games ahead of the series opener. During the course of the innings, he completed his 24th Test half-century. He found support in wicketkeeper-batsman Mohammad Rizwan. Rizwan counterattacked his way to 37 off 34 balls, hitting seven boundaries – three of which came in one Starc over after lunch – and put Pakistan back in the game briefly; but his controversial dismissal pegged back the team further.
Cummins had Rizwan caught behind, but the on-field umpires went upstairs to check for the front foot no-ball. The replays showed no part of Cummins foot being behind the line, yet the third umpire Michael Gough ruled the decision in favour of the bowler.
However, Shafiq and Yasir Shah then stitched a crucial partnership of 84 runs for the seventh wicket with the latter contributing 26 runs. Pakistan were also helped by the hosts who wanted to make up for the over-rate and introduced part-timers Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne.
However, the second new ball did the trick with Starc wiping put the tail. Pakistan lost their last four wickets for just 13 runs.
Brief scores: Pakistan 240 all out (Asad Shafiq 76, Shan Masood 39; Mitchell Starc 4/52)