24/04/2024

Usman Khawaja celebrates his 11th Test century, rasing his bat on Day 1 in Karachi. Image @TheCricketerMag/ Twitter

Usman Khawaja brought up the most special Test match century on Day 1, leading the way for Australia who had a good day with the bat in Karachi.

Usman Khawaja brought up the most special Test match century on Day 1, leading the way for Australia who had a good day with the bat in Karachi.

Australia handed leg-spinner Mitchell Swepson baggy green number 464 in place, while Pakistan welcomed back their regulars in Faheem Ashraf and Hasan Ali to the XI.

Here are the moments that mattered from Day 1 in Karachi:

Aussies cash in early after winning the toss

The coin fell Pat Cummins way and without hesitation, chose to bat first on a warm morning in Karachi and on a pitch that looked similar to the one they were presented with last week in Pindi.

The openers saw off the opening few overs from Shaheen Shah Afridi and the returning Hassan Ali before they began to feast on the Pakistani bowlers and begin ticking the scoring rate over.

Warner and Khawaja raced to the 50 run stand in the opening 10 overs, scoring at four and a half runs an over in the first hour, reaching the opening drinks break unbroken and looking increasingly settled.

No run indeed as Marnus is caught short before Lunch

Many Australian batters would have been kicking themselves after the First Test that they left several runs out in the middle at Pindi.

One of them, Marnus Labuschagne, who batted exceptionally well for 90 in the first Test, would have set himself for a big one in Karachi as he strode to the wicket at the fall of David Warner not long after the first drinks break.

Labuschagne, still yet to register a century since ascending to number one on the ICC Test batting rankings, was looking to pick up where he left off and looked for a quick single to get off the mark.

He pushed a ball to Sajid Khan at deep mid-off and set off for what looked like a tight single. A direct hit from Sajid caught Labuschagne inches short of his ground, meaning he had to depart for a duck. Just the second duck of Labuschagne’s career, his first since his debut innings in Test cricket also against Pakistan in Dubai 2018.

It was the fourth time since 2018 that Marnus had been run out in Test cricket. A body blow for Australia who after coasting through the first hour and a half, found themselves losing two quick wickets just 20 minutes out from the Lunch interval.

Battle continues after Lunch as Smith, Khawaja settle in

The battle was on as the players resumed after the lunch break with the battle between bat and ball intensifying.

Nauman Ali got one to turn sharply away from the bat of Steve Smith in his first over after lunch from a straight delivery, which was acknowledged by Smith and would have made all players sit up and take notice of the turn being generated on Day 1.

Pakistan tightened the bowling right up after the lunch break and managed to control the run rate from the Australians the entire session. Only yielding 72 runs from the 25 overs bowled in the middle session of play. No wickets were taken though.

The Pakistani seamers, led by Shaheen Shah Afridi started to find some reverse swing later in the session which began to challenge both of the set Australian batters.

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Khawaja makes no mistake, brings up special Test match century

After falling just three runs short in Rawalpindi of what would have been the most special of Test centuries, Usman Khawaja made sure that if he got the chance again, he wasn’t going to make the same mistake.

After racing to 50, his scoring rate slowed down in the middle session, and again after the tea break but he remained patient all throughout. On 99*, he tucked a drifting delivery from Sajid Khan to square leg to bring up his 11th Test hundred.

The most special and meaningful hundred of his Test career.

It’s the latest magical moment in this latest and likely final chapter of Khawaja’s Test career as he and Smith crossed the 100 run partnership.

Umpires intervene to prevent negative tactics from Pakistan

With both Smith and Khawaja increasingly settled, Pakistan’s tactics were called into question by commentators, pundits and the standing umpires.

Like we saw in the First Test at Rawalpindi, Mohammad Rizwan set up outside the leg stump to Nauman Ali as he bowled wide outside the leg stump, effectively trying to buy a wicket from a mistake. A negative tactic, but it did work in Pindi for Nauman, taking the wickets of both Cameron Green and Steve Smith with it on his way to a bag of six.

With Rizwan adopting the same setup to both Nauman and Sajid, and with both spinners settling in on a leg-side line, Smith and Khawaja obliged by simply padding the balls away.

The standing umpires started to intervene. First by having words with the skipper Babar Azam and then started calling some deliveries wide as they deemed the tactics displayed by Pakistan as both “defensive” and “negative” and as such, can call the ball wide as per the wide ruling in one-day cricket.

The spinners continued to bowl close to the leg-side line as they awaited the second new ball.

Faheem stunner sends Smith packing late in the day

Both teams were just steadily playing out the overs and waiting for the close of play with little fanfare or movement. After being relegated to first change with the new ball, Hasan Ali was bowling the second last over from the day, with Steve Smith, sitting pretty and eyeing off a big score tomorrow.

That was until Ali dropped one back of a length and got Steve Smith edging behind to the cordon. Diving to his left, Faheem Ashraf moved low and quickly to take a stunning one-handed catch at second slip. Against the run of play.

With seven balls left in the day, Smith had to depart for 72. Still waiting for just his second Test century since his big double-century at Manchester in 2019. His last Test hundred was against India at the SCG in 2021.

Australia reached Stumps at 3/251, with Usman Khawaja batting through the day reaching 127*.

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