MELBOURNE: Pakistan’s ace pacer Shaheen Shah Afridi sledged and repeatedly stared at Australia’s Marnus Labuschagne during the entertaining opening day of the Boxing Day Test.
Australia were on the back foot as their batters found it difficult to counter Pakistan pacers under seam-friendly conditions.
Shaheen Afridi created opportunities, but fielders failed to capitalize on them. Abdullah Shafique and Babar Azam dropped simple catches against opener David Warner.
Then, the floodlights got turned out due to dark clouds over the Melbourne Cricket Ground. The cloudy conditions along with Shaheen Afridi and his fellow pacer Hassan Ali’s aggressive approach troubled Australia at both ends.
Marnus Labuschagne’s innings was one of the talking points on the opening day of the Boxing Day Test. Things got heated when the right-handed batter asked the on-field umpire to stop play citing “substandard playing conditions” as his reason.
Marnus Labuschagne was on the back foot in the 40th over as he faced Shaheen Afridi’s thunderbolts. The viral video of the battle showed the right-handed batter finding it difficult to counter the left-arm pacer.
— Amir Zafar (@amirzafar381) December 26, 2023
It is pertinent to mention that the second Test between Australia and Pakistan at the Melbourne Cricket Ground had a captivating start with the visitors restricting the hosts to 187-3 on the first day with their spirited performance.
The second Test was interrupted by rain in the latter half of the day, consequently allowing only 66 overs of play.
Australian batters Marnus Labuschagne (44) and Travis Head (9) will resume the batting against Pakistan on the second day.
Australia managed to score 90-1 in the first session on the first day of the Boxing Day Test on the back of a solid opening partnership between Usman Khawaja and David Warner.
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The 90-run partnership was broken at the stroke of lunch as Warner was caught by Babar Azam off Salman Ali Agha after being dropped earlier by Abdullah Shafique.
Warned played an innings of 38 off 83 with three boundaries.
Australia could only add 23 runs from 15 overs in the second session before rain interruption halted the play, while Pakistan removed Usman Khawaja, who was caught by Salman Ali Agha in slips on Hasan Ali’s bowling.
Khawaja scored 42 runs from 101 balls with five boundaries.
The rain prompted umpires to take an early Tea break with the scoreboard reading 114-2.
Marnus Labuschagne and Steve Smith resumed their innings in the last session as they added 46 runs for the third wicket before the latter was dismissed.
Smith was caught behind off Aamer Jamal after scoring 26 runs.
Travis Head then joined Labuschagne and together they took Australia’s total to 187-3 at the end of the first day’s play during the Boxing Day Test.