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The Big Six

Marnus Labuschagne does his best Steve Smith impression

by Roshan Gede 5 minute read

Australia opener David Warner and No. 3 Marnus Labuschagne brought up their second consecutive Test hundreds to put the hots in a commanding position on day one of the second Test against Pakistan at the Adelaide Oval.

The hosts reached stumps at 302-1, with Warner and Labuschagne unbeaten on 166 and 126 respectively.

Shaheen offers early promise for Pakistan

3.3 Joe Burns c Rizwan b Shaheen Afridi 4 (9)

Shaheen Afridi was by far Pakistan’s best bowler on show, beating the outside edge on multiple occasions throughout the day, especially in the first couple of hours. His very first ball of the day was a sharp in-dipper to Joe Burns, which went past the opener’s extravagant drive to miss the off stump marginally.

After playing out seven dots against the left-arm seamer, Burns latched on to an overpitched one outside off to dispatch it through covers for four. Shaheen shortened his length a bit, marginally straightened his line and allowed the left-arm angle to do the rest from over the wicket. Burns fell into the trap and poked at it tentatively, only to nick it through to the keeper Mohammad Rizwan, who snaffled it gleefully.

Labuschagne does a Smith

6.4 Mohammad Abbas to Marnus Labuschagne, four runs

Fresh from a marathon hundred at the Gabba, Australia’s number three was oozing in confidence as he walked in to bat against the pink ball in Adelaide. With Afridi having found his rhythm, Labuschagne didn’t bother to play at it much and shouldered arms to most away-going deliveries. His first over was a maiden.

Next over, the right-hander got his innings away with a wonderful clip through midwicket for a four. Much like Steve Smith, he walked across his off stump and took the full delivery outside off to flick it through the on-side. He didn’t have much pace to work with, but relied on stellar timing to send the ball racing. You could superimpose Australia’s modern-day genius, or perhaps even the one from yesteryears, Mark Waugh, over that shot.

Warner goes after debutant Musa

12.1 Musa Khan to David Warner, four runs

Musa Khan, 19,  enjoyed a memorable moment early in the day, being handed his maiden Test cap by one of the all-time greats in Wasim Akram. His first day with the ball wasn’t one to remember though, as he was up against two quality batsman who were at their fluent best.

Warner went after the youngster in his second over of the spell, hitting him for fours of successive balls. He first unleashed a fluent cover drive off an over-pitched delivery which raced towards the extra-cover fence, and when the bowler compensated by shortening his length, the left-hander played a fierce square cut which went over the slips for another boundary. Musa didn’t really appear threatening thereafter and went for 66 runs in the 12 overs he bowled on the day.

Warner bulldozes Pakistan again

51.2 Yasir Shah to Warner, one run

If David Warner were asked to pick a handful of venues to bat at for the rest of his career, the Adelaide Oval would surely be among his top picks. Having begun the Australian summer with a blistering maiden T20I hundred against Sri Lanka at the venue, he brought up his fourth Test hundred there to take his overall Test tally to 23.

His innings was studded by 19 boundaries, almost all scored with great conviction. He slowed down a bit in his nineties, playing 19 balls from 90 to 99, before he dropped one in front of backward point to race through for a single and with it, celebrated yet another Test hundred with a trademark leap.

The left-hander has buried his Ashes failures and currently seems unstoppable, having registered scores of 100*, 60*, 57*, 2*, 20, 48*, 154 and now 166* across formats in the home season so far. He’s also gone past Matthew Hayden’s tally of 40 international hundreds for Australia and is now second in the list behind his former captain Ricky Ponting (70).

From misfortune to misery, Shaheen kicks one past the ropes

57.1 Yasir Shah to Warner, four runs

Shaheen was the only bowler who seemed to cause some trouble to the Australian batsmen, but he had some forgettable moments on the field. He had already let one go through while fielding at the sweeper cover, as he failed to sight the ball after Warner cut a marginally short of length delivery by Iftikhar Ahmed.

To add to the agony, the 19-year old kicked one into the boundary ropes while chasing after one through the wide long-off region and instantly faced music from the cheery Adelaide crowd. Warner played his favourite cut shot and Shaheen seemed to have it covered before overstepping and kicking the ball past the ropes. That summed up Pakistan’s day on the field.

The Labuschagne juggernaut rolls on and on

59.2 Yasir Shah to Labuschagne, two runs

Marnus Labuschagne can do no wrong. He scored tough runs during the Ashes series in England, and now he’s relishing the batting-friendly conditions at home. With Warner having already crossed his century earlier and the partnership well past 200, the right-hander brought up his own personal milestone with a gentle nudge of Yasir through the midwicket and soaked in a warm round of applause from the Adelaide crowd.

This was Labuschagne’s second consecutive Test ton after he had piled up a marathon 185 in the first Test in Brisbane. The right-hander had walked in as the concussion substitute for the injured Steve Smith during the second Ashes Test at Lord’s and since then, has gone past fifty on six occasions out of nine.

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