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Marnus Labuschagne
World Test Championship

Australia inch close to innings win after Labuschagne’s maiden Test ton

Aus v Pak, 1st Test, day three, report

Marnus Labuschagne’s maiden Test hundred, his career-best first-class score of 185, powered Australia to a 340-run first-innings lead on the third day of the first Test at the Gabba.

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Australia racked up 580 on Saturday, 23 November, in response to Pakistan’s 240. Faced with the onerous task of overcoming a massive defecit with six and a bit sessions left in the Test, Pakistan’s top order crumbled against the new-ball duo of Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins. By stumps, the visitors had been reduced to 64/3, with 276 runs still to be scored to make Australia bat again.

Labuschagne was the dominant scorer for much of the morning. David Warner, resuming on 151, had added just three runs to his overnight tally when he was dismissed, but Australia had by then scored 39 runs in 14 overs in the morning.

That dismissal ended a 19-over wait for 16-year-old Naseem Shah, who had been denied his maiden Test wicket on Friday, when he overstepped after having Warner edge to Mohammad Rizwan behind the stumps. The maiden wicket was well-earned, arriving via a sensational short ball that kissed the bottom edge of the bat as Warner tried to get out of the way. Three overs later, Steve Smith tried to flick a straight leg-break from Yasir Shah through the on side and lost his stumps, enduring a rare failure.

But the early surge soon made way for despondency, as Labuschagne and Matthew Wade buckled down for a 110-run fourth-wicket stand that nearly lasted a session. Seventeen balls into their partnership, Labuschagne had his first Test hundred, one that arrived via an outside edge that went through the vacant fourth slip region to the boundary.

So comfortable were Australia’s batsmen that Wade was soon bringing out lap sweeps to Yasir, Pakistan’s most successful bowler. By lunch, the two had taken Australia to the brink of 400. Post-lunch, Labuschagne was providing a glimpse of his own paddle sweeps, while Wade was skipping down the track and launching Pakistan’s spinners over the boundary.

Both batsmen continued to unfurl a series of drives, punches and cuts as Australia briskly marched past 450; soon after, Labuschagne and Wade brought up the hundred of their partnership. 

Mitchell Starc ripped through Pakistan early in their second innings
Mitchell Starc ripped through Pakistan early in their second innings

A top-edged reverse sweep from Wade that went fine for four made it clear that Australia were pushing towards a declaration, but two overs later, Pakistan had a lucky break when Wade tried to open the face of his bat to Haris Sohail and instead popped a simple catch to the wicket-keeper Rizwan.

With Wade’s dismissal, Australia lost their last seven wickets for 112 runs, but had by then ascended into a dominant position. That was only further solidified when Starc trapped Azhar Ali lbw with an in-swinger in the third over of Pakistan’s innings, and had Sohail caught behind with one that moved the other way in his next over. Pat Cummins then found movement off the deck to have Asad Shafiq caught by Smith at slip, as Pakistan had the wind knocked out of them.

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