Recent Match Report – Australia vs Pakistan 1st Test 2023/24


Australia 346 for 5 (Warner 164) vs Pakistan

David Warner launched his Test cricket swansong with a belligerent century on day one to dominate an inexperienced Pakistan attack as Australia gained an early stranglehold of the series-opener at Optus Stadium.

Warner reached his 26th Test ton late in the second session with an upper cut to the boundary to trigger his trademark leaping celebration. He had come into the match on the back of a recent public spat with former team-mate and adopted local Mitchell Johnson, who was at the ground.

Warner’s form at Test level had long been questioned having previously scored just one century over the last three years. But the faith instilled in Warner, who plans to retire from Test cricket at the end of the series, has paid off as he passed Matthew Hayden and Michael Clarke to move into fifth place on Australia’s run scoring list.

Warner has now scored six Test centuries against Pakistan with an average of almost 90. His brilliant 164 off 211 balls ended late in the day when he succumbed to a short-ball tactic from debutant quick Aamer Jamal.

Mitchell Marsh and Alex Carey survived the second new ball and will look to drive home Australia’s advantage on day two.

Pakistan’s chances of ending a 14-Test losing streak in Australia look already forlorn after the opening day of the three-match series. It was a tough start for new captain Shan Masood, whose optimism heading into the series quickly eroded after a ragged performance from his team in the field.

Bounce and pace was evident on a surface with a smattering of grass covering as occasional deliveries reared. But Pakistan’s quicks did not bowl consistently on a length and there were too many full deliveries which were treated with disdain from Warner.

Pakistan’s hierarchy are already facing question marks after not selecting a specialist spinner and opting for debutant quicks Jamal and Khurram Shahzad ahead of veteran Hasan Ali.

But Shahzad justified his selection with an impressive spell after lunch, where he made the ball jag around and bowled tightly. He was rewarded in the final session after having a well-set Steven Smith caught behind on 31 with a superb delivery.

Jamal, however, was wayward but ended as Pakistan’s only multiple wicket-taker having also claimed Travis Head who was caught at fly slip on 40 in a well-worked plan.

Much of the burden fell on spearhead Shaheen Shah Afridi, who bowled 13 of Pakistan’s first 32 overs. He was unlucky early and nudged 140kph, but erred with his accuracy at times and his only wicket was opener Usman Khawaja for 41.

Afridi, who finished with 1 for 75 off 19 overs, was not able to trouble Warner consistently and suffered the ignominy of being carted for an extraordinary scoop shot for six just before lunch.

Warner has dominated Australia’s innings so far with no other batter converting starts. He vindicated Pat Cummins’ decision to bat first on a hard surface which has provided some assistance to the quicks. Warner smashed 72 runs in a dominant first session alongside Khawaja as they produced Australia’s first century opening partnership in home Tests in 26 innings.

They scored freely but also had to survive an opening six-over burst from Afridi on a surface livelier than during last year’s dreary corresponding Test between Australia and West Indies.

Khawaja played second fiddle and was dropped on 21 by Abdullah Shafique running back from the slips. He came into the match under the spotlight after not being allowed to wear shoes which expressed humanitarian views, but wore a black armband.

Khawaja succumbed to a Pakistan fightback after lunch, but Warner’s heroics put Australia in firm control.

A full-strength Australia went in as expected with Marsh retaining his spot over Western Australia team-mate Cameron Green. Frontline spinner Nathan Lyon makes his return from the calf injury that cut short his Ashes campaign. He will have to wait to bowl with Lyon four away from his 500th Test wicket.

There had been a big marketing campaign ahead of the Test after underwhelming crowd numbers in the previous three Tests played at the 60,000 capacity Optus Stadium.

The crowd steadily built to 16,259 fans for the fourth Test match played at Optus Stadium with the newly installed three-tiered hill – aiming to mimic the WACA’s famous grass banks – filling up amid increased shade as the day wore on.

They would have been satisfied with what they saw as Australia expectedly gained control.

Tristan Lavalette is a journalist based in Perth

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