David Warner’s 22nd century and his opening wicket stand of 222 with Joe Burns (97) handed Australia the initiative on Day Two of the first Test against Pakistan at the Gabba, Brisbane.
The world got to see a glimpse of 16-year-old Naseem Shah on Day Two and were treated to the sight of his terrific, intimidating pace. He wasn’t afraid to have a stare down with Warner after bowling well-directed bouncers at him. His pace did not drop below 140kmph, but there was very little for the bowlers. His fellow quicks Shaheen Afridi and Imran Khan too did not find any swing in the first session, but the ball occasionally did something off the pitch when bowled at a length or fuller than a good length.
Australian openers Warner and Burns made the best use of it, putting on 50 in less than 10 overs and by the end of the session, Australia were well on top. They had put on the highest opening wicket partnership for Australia this year but more importantly had all their 10 wickets intact. Things were looking ominous for Pakistan, who brought in part-timer Iftikhar Ahmed into the attack ahead of Yasir Shah. Before this game, Warner had a strike-rate of 118.6 and had been dismissed just once in seven innings against the leggie.
Warner brought up his fifty with minimum fuss and the openers brought up their 100-run stand at nearly four runs an over – all this in the first session of the day. This was also Australia’s third century opening stand since 2018.
Naseem continued to hog the limelight at the start of the post-lunch session when he had Warner caught behind, only to be later declared as a no-ball, denying the teenager his maiden Test wicket. And Pakistan of an ideal start to the session.
Pakistan however dried down the runs soon and did not allow the boundaries to be pocketed easily, making the Aussies toil hard for every run. Australia were still in a good position and a platform had been laid from where they could easily take a big lead. Pakistan on the other hand hoped that all the pressure would eventually result in a wicket, but it did not and they were wicketless even at the end of the second session, with Warner just a run away from century and Burns on the brink of back-to-back Test tons. The deficit too was reduced to just 45 with 10 wickets in hand.
Warner got his 22nd Test century in the second over after resumption – his fourth at Brisbane - and the pair had put on a 200-run stand for the opening wicket soon after that. Australia have had four double century stands for the first wicket since 2009 and Warner has been involved in all four of them. Burns, though fell soon after, looking to sweep Yasir from around the wicket, outside leg, gloved the ball on to his wicket three short of his fifth Test century.
From there, it was business as usual for Australia with Warner and Marnus Labuschagne putting on a fifty stand without any fuss. Labuschagne continued his good form with the bat, bringing up his sixth fifty off 91 deliveries. Australia extended their lead to 72 by the end of day’s play without taking any sort of risks and as a result, Pakistan have been put further on the back foot. Australia have put themselves in a tremendous position and are in pole position to win this Test, maybe with a day or more left.
It will be interesting to see at what point Australia will declare on Day Three. A lead of about 300 to 350 will be the number on Tim Paine’s mind.
Pakistan 240 (Asad Shafiq 76, Azhar Ali 39; Mitchell Starc 4 for 52, Pat Cummins 3 for 60) trail Australia 312 for 1 (David Warner 151*, Joe Burns 97; Yasir Shah 1 for 65) by 72 runs