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

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Lunch Australia 476 for 7 (Marsh 90*, Cummins 9*) vs Pakistan

Allrounder Mitchell Marsh pummelled a lacklustre Pakistan attack in the opening session of day two as Australia built a formidable first innings total in the series opening Test at Optus Stadium.

He reached lunch unbeaten on 90 and made the surface appear flat although he was aided by a Pakistan attack that appeared to be going through the motions.

Marsh has relished playing his first Test match at Optus Stadium having dominated on his home ground over the years in the BBL for Perth Scorchers. He also justified the faith of selectors who stuck with him over Western Australia team-mate Cameron Green.

Marsh and Alex Carey had laid the ground work after thwarting the new ball in the shadows late on day one to cap Australia’s dominant start to the series.

With Australia resuming at 346 for 5, after David Warner’s century dominated day one, Pakistan needed to strike with the relatively new ball and spearhead Shaheen Shah Afridi was tasked with clawing his side back into the contest.

After new skipper Shan Masood implemented defensive fields late on the opening day, Afridi was armed with three slips at the start of the day’s play. He found the right line and length on the second ball of the day to strike Carey on the pads, but Pakistan wisely did not review the not out decision with replays indicating the ball would have gone over the stumps.

It was a cautious start until Marsh pounced on a short delivery from debutant quick Khurram Shahzad, who had impressed with a disciplined spell after lunch on day one where he hit the mid-130kph mark. But he bowled considerably slower at the start of day two and his pedestrian pace was easily handled by Marsh and Carey.

Fellow debutant Aamer Jamal had expressed after day one Pakistan’s goal of bowling Australia out an hour into the day’s play, but those hopes quickly eroded and their bowling became more ragged.

Afridi out of desperation resorted to slower balls which failed to have the desired effect.

Marsh unfurled his muscular batting with powerful strokes around the wicket and he particularly took a liking to innocuous short-pitched deliveries that were being served up. He raced to his half-century off 66 balls and his aggressiveness rubbed off on Carey, who whacked two cover drives in three deliveries off seamer Faheem Ashraf.

Carey was on his way to making a statement after his disappointment of being dropped from Australia’s team during the World Cup. But on 34 he was comprehensively bowled by an unplayable delivery from Jamal, who had entered the attack just before drinks.

Jamal claimed two wickets on day one, but his performance had been hampered by waywardness and bowling at fairly sedate speeds.

He unleashed hostile bowling, nudging 140kph, after drinks and produced another superb delivery to knock over Mitchell Starc.

But Marsh counterattacked and smashed Jamal for six over midwicket as he inched closer to his fourth Test century. Jamal reverted to a short-pitched line, with fielders spread around the boundary, against Marsh who resisted the bait as lunch approached.

A 16,000 day one crowd was seen as a good result from local officials – despite much higher targets initially – and the parochial fans might be tempted to descend in numbers after lunch with their hometown hero taking centre stage.

Tristan Lavalette is a journalist based in Perth

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