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

Australia 117 for 0 (Warner 72*, Khawaja 37*) vs Pakistan

Opener David Warner started his Test cricket swansong with a rapid half-century to blunt an uninspiring Pakistan attack alongside Usman Khawaja as Australia dominated the first session of the series-opener at Optus Stadium.

Pat Cummins won the toss and resisted the temptation to bowl first on an expected fast and bouncy wicket. It proved a wise call with Warner and Khawaja batting through the session to produce Australia’s first century opening partnership in home Tests in 26 innings.

After a recent public spat with former team-mate and adopted local Mitchell Johnson, there had been uncertainty over whether Warner would receive a frosty relationship from a parochial Perth crowd.

But Warner was quickly lapped up by the fans as he raced to his half-century off 41 balls. While his Test position has been continually questioned, Warner showed why he will be tough to replace when he retires from the format at the end of the series.

Khawaja came into the match under the spotlight after not being allowed to wear shoes which expressed humanitarian views. Wearing a black armband, Khawaja batted steadily in contrast to Warner, but received a life on 21 when he top edged a short delivery from debutant quick Aamer Jamal only for Abdullah Shafique to make a ham-fisted attempt running back from slips.

The surface was livelier than during last year’s dreary corresponding Test between Australia and West Indies. Bounce and pace was evident, particularly with the new ball, but Pakistan’s quicks did not bowl consistently on a threatening back of a length in a disastrous start for the tourists hoping to snap a 14-Test losing streak in Australia.

Several deliveries reared and caused the batters troubled, but too many balls were full and promptly dispatched. After an initial six-over burst from left-arm spearhead Shaheen Shah Afridi, the other seamers felt relatively pedestrian to put Pakistan’s selection gambles firmly under the microscope.

David Warner launched a six over long leg•Getty Images

There was much anticipation over a new-look pace-heavy Pakistan attack after the hierarchy made the bold call to not select a specialist spinner. The surprises continued with debutant quicks Jamal and Khurram Shahzad picked ahead of veteran Hasan Ali.

The pressure fell on Afridi, who produced a lively opening over where he conjured two outside edges from Khawaja that did not go to hand in the slips.

Fourteen runs were ultimately scored in the equal second most runs in an opening over in Test cricket since 2002. Afridi, who bowled consistently in the late 130kph, occasionally made the ball rear before Warner took control and made batting look easy.

Debutant skipper Shan Masood desperately turned to Afridi before lunch, but he unsuccessfully reviewed a not out lbw decision on Warner.

Warner punctuated his commanding session with an extraordinary scoop shot for six as Pakistan went into lunch looking for answers.

A full-strength Australia went in as expected with allrounder Mitchell 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.

Despite initial hope of attracting 30,000 fans for day one, the ground was sparsely populated with some hardy fans braving the newly installed three-tiered hill which was not protected from the sun bar some shade sails.

Those fans will not be displeased as they look forward to settling in after lunch as Warner and Khawaja eye hundreds.

Tristan Lavalette is a journalist based in Perth

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